One Cent: What your pennies have done for Colleton County
by The Press and Standard | May 24, 2019 5:00 am
Last Updated: May 22, 2019 at 11:32 am
Capital Projects Sales Tax: At the halfway point
Colleton County’s Capital Projects Sales Tax reached the halfway point of its eight-year life on the tax rolls May 1.
While the collection of the sales tax is at the halfway point, a majority of the capital projects undertaken with the revenue-generating plan are completed, and the few of the remaining on the list will be completed before the summer ends.
Leading up to the placement of the one cent sales tax on the November 2014 General Election ballot, a committee chosen by Colleton County officials collected proposals for the use of the sales tax funds from officials of Colleton County and the county’s municipalities and towns.
The committee’s goal was to evaluate all the proposed projects and select ones that would be funded by the sales tax if voters approved the ballot issue.
The list of projects was crucial: the list was part of the ballot question and the sales tax revenue had to be used to undertake that specific work.
The state projected that the one percent sales tax would generate about $31.6 million in its eight years on the tax rolls.
The list of potential projects provided by the county and the cities and towns totaled about $46 million.
The committee was required to cut the number of projects and prioritize them. The submitted projects were scored based on a number of factors including the level of need, number of citizens impacted by the project, if the project was shovel ready, the economic development components and if the communities seeking the money were willing to make an equity contribution.
The committee selected 13 projects totaling $29,700,757.
When the sales tax issue appeared on the ballot in November 2014, voters gave a thumbs up 5,727 to 4,529, a 55.84 percent approval.
Shortly after the voters approved the sales tax, Colleton County Council voted to issue bonds for the $29.7 million in capital projects covered by the sales tax.
Colleton County Chief Financial Officer Jon Carpenter explained that the yes vote by the voters “allowed the county to issue bonds in advance so that funds would be immediately available for the approved projects and not have to wait on actual tax collections. The one percent capital projects sales tax that is remitted to the county is used to pay the annual principal and interest (debt service) on the bonds,” he said.
The debt service on the bonds began in July 2015 and runs through July 2024. The debt service increases each year so the excess collections in the early years offsets the higher debt service in the final years, as well as funding the final bond payment due in July 2024 after the tax expiration in April 30, 2023.
The state began collecting the tax on May 1, 2015.
The one percent sales tax generated $3,727,717.13 in the 2016 fiscal year, $4,198,030.11 in the 2017 fiscal year and $4,304,456.02 in fiscal year 2018. Final figures on the sales tax proceeds for the 2019 fiscal year will be determined when the current fiscal year ends on June 30.
Carpenter said, “By comparing quarterly collections received to date to the previous fiscal year collections for the same time period, current year collections are trending about five percent higher.
“The one percent capital projects sales tax collections have exceeded the annual debt service on the bonds to date, though this excess is needed for higher debt service in the upcoming years, as well as the final bond payment due after the termination of the tax,” Carpenter said.
At the halfway point of the eight-year life of the sales tax, seven of the projects accounting for $13,282,000 of the $27 million in projects identified in the ballot question, have been competed.
The work is finished on the beach restoration, Law Enforcement Center, solid waste transfer station, Hampton Street Auditorium, Cottageville recreation area, the well pumps and back-up generators for Lodge, Smoaks and Williams, and the Airport Parcel C water-wastewater service.
In the coming months, three other capital projects fueled by the sales tax are expected to join the list of completed projects. Those projects are: the renovated and expanded Lowcountry Regional Airport terminal, Recreation Center improvements and the city’s Hampton, Washington, Ivanhoe streets water lines.
John T. Stieglitz III, the county’s Capital Projects and Purchasing Director, said the recreation center and airport terminal renovation are on schedule and should be completed in early June.
Stieglitz’s office is not monitoring the Walterboro water line project. City officials anticipate completion this year.
Those three projects, when finished, will add another $5,501,810 to the amount of projects completed, bringing that total to $18,783,810.
Sales tax projects
• Edisto Beach’s beach restoration, $4 million
• Walterboro’s I-95 Business Loop Improvements, $6,646,947
• Colleton County Airport Terminal Renovation, $1,690,000
• Colleton County Law Enforcement Center, $5,170,000
• Colleton County Solid Waste Transfer Station, $1,880,000
• Hampton Street Auditorium Renovation, $1,732,000
• Walterboro’s Hampton, Washington, Ivanhoe Water Line, $691,810
• Colleton County Rural Water System, $1,560,000
• Well Pump and backup generator for Lodge, Smoaks and Williams, $210,000
• Recreational Center Improvements, fitness center, splash pad and gymnasium expansion, $3,220,000
• Water-wastewater service to Airport Parcel C and Venture Park, $700,000
• Harrelson Building Customer Service Center, $1,910,000
• Town of Cottageville recreational area, $290,000