Board of Ed OKs placing one-penny education sales tax with property tax cut on November ballot

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Citing a pressing need to accommodate rapidly increasing numbers of students, the Beaufort County Board of Education voted today to place a one-penny education sales tax on the November 2016 general election ballot for consideration by local voters.

Board Chair Mary Cordray released the following statement on behalf of the Board:

“After careful consideration of the district’s current capital needs and enrollment projections, the Beaufort County School Board voted to place a one-penny local education capital sales tax referendum on the November 2016 general election ballot. This referendum will allow voters to determine the method of funding used by the district to meet its growing capital needs, which include new construction and also extending the life of existing facilities. The ballot question will also include authorization to spend funds in anticipation of sales tax collections.

“If approved by Beaufort County voters in November, the tax, specified for a time period of ten (10) years, would be begin in March 2017 and expire automatically in 2027. Renewal would require a subsequent approval by voters in a future general election. In general, items currently exempted from tax would also be exempt from this education sales tax. For example, the sales tax would not apply to unprepared foods. It is estimated that over one-third of the revenue generated by a sales tax of this nature would come from non-Beaufort County citizens, including both tourists and residents from neighboring counties who visit and shop in Beaufort County.

“Funds from the one-penny education sales tax referendum would be used exclusively for capital projects as specified on the ballot question; state law would prohibit the funds from being used for operations. In addition, ALL Beaufort County property owners’ taxes on debt service, including 4 percent homeowners, 6 percent homeowners, businesses, vehicles, etc., would be reduced by one-third over the period of time the tax is in place.

“Between now and the November referendum, the Board and district will schedule multiple educational and informational public meetings in order to provide complete and accurate information to the public. Additionally, the school district will have the details of the proposal available on the district website. The Board’s goal is to ensure that parents, employees, and all Beaufort County taxpayers have access to the information they need to make an informed decision in the voting booth.

“If the sales tax referendum is not successful on the November 2016 ballot, the Beaufort County School Board will use other capital funding mechanisms available that would result in an increase in the school district debt service millage.”

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