A look at what’s on Tuesday’s ballot

 By Mike McCombs 

With Election Day coming up Tuesday, Nov. 2, let’s take a look at what choices Northern Beaufort County residents will have to make when they cast their ballots. 

Local Option Sales Tax 

Beaufort County Referendums Local Question 1, placed on the ballot by Beaufort County Council, involves the authorization to impose a 1 percent Local Option Sales Tax (L.O.S.T.) on persons in Beaufort County. 

“Must a one percent sales and use tax be levied in Beaufort County for the purpose of allowing a credit against a taxpayer’s county and municipal ad valorem tax liability and for the purpose of funding county and municipal operations in the Beaufort County area?” 

A “yes” vote approves the Local Option Sales Tax, while a “no” vote rejects it. 

If approved, the proposed initiative requires the county and municipalities to use 71 percent of the revenue “to provide a credit against the property tax liability of taxpayers in the county and municipality.” The other 29 percent must be used to fund county and municipal operations. 

The 1 percent L.O.S.T., if approved, will likely cause no increase in the total sales tax rate in Beaufort County. The transportation tax (1 percent) is projected to expire before year’s end.

Change in Beaufort County government

Beaufort County Referendums Local Question 2, placed on the ballot by Beaufort County Council, involves the change of the Beaufort County government “from that of a Council-Administrator form of government as set forth in S.C. Code of Laws Title 4, Chapter 9, Article 7 (1976, as amended) to that of a Council-Manager form of government as set forth in S.C. Code of Laws Title 4, Chapter 9, Article 9 (1976, as amended) and provide for the appointment of the County Treasurer and County Auditor?”

A “yes” vote would make the change to allow the County Administrator to appoint the County Treasurer and the County Auditor. A “no” vote would keep the current system, whereby the County Treasurer and County Auditor are elected.

This ballot question is likely a result of the ongoing situation with Auditor Jim Beckert, who has been sued twice by Beaufort County in efforts to compel him to do his elected duties.

Beckert, elected to a four-year term in 2018, is also facing two separate harassment suits from Beaufort County Treasurer Maria Walls and former Beaufort County Financial Officer Alicia Holland.

As an elected official, Beckert can’t be disciplined by the county and can only be removed by the governor, which is not likely. 

Port Royal Town Council

Northern Beaufort Count voters residing withing the town limits of Port Royal will decide who gets the pair of Town Council seats up for grabs. Four candidates are vying for those two at-large seats.

The four candidates include incumbents Mary Beth Heyward and Darryl Owens, as well as challengers Eddie Gugino and John Hazel.

Yemassee Mayor and Town Council

The half of the Town of Yemassee that resides in Beaufort County will be voting for Mayor and two at-large Town Council seats.

The choice for mayor should be easy – incumbent Mayor Colin Moore is running unopposed.

There are six candidates – Trena Ellis, Natasha N. Greene, Robert Moore, David Paul Murray, Stacy Pinckney and Darrell Russell – running for two vacant Town Council seats.

Voting in-person absentee

If you are working Nov. 2, will be out of town, are disabled or 65 or older, you can bring your ID and vote absentee in-person through Friday, Oct. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 16 John Galt Road, Beaufort. The last day to vote in-person absentee is Monday, Nov. 1, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. If mailing or dropping off your Absentee Ballot to the Board of Elections, it must be received no later than 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Mike McCombs is the Editor of The Island News and can be reached at TheIslandNews@gmail.com.

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