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Sales tax ballot initiative will reduce property taxes, spur local investment

5 mins read
Murray was sworn into office on Dec. 8 as Beaufort's first new mayor in 12 years.

By Stephen Murray

On Nov. 2, Beaufort County voters will be asked to consider the implementation of an additional one-cent sales tax.

I wanted to take a minute to share with you why I think passage of this referendum is so important – for residents of our beautiful city, and for the city itself.

Unlike other sales tax programs, this proposed initiative requires municipalities to apply the bulk of the funding toward directly reducing YOUR property taxes. If passed, Beaufort County and the City of Beaufort will EACH apply 71% percent of all taxes collected under this initiative toward a direct reduction in county and municipal real and personal property taxes paid by our residents. Homes, vehicles, boats, and other taxable properties will all receive reductions under this program.

So, the vast majority of this will go toward reducing our residents’ tax liability.

But the balance, 29 percent, will help our residents as well. We will help “boost” our City as we leverage local investments.

The City of Beaufort has committed to using the remainder of the funds as follows:

Stormwater projects

Improvements to streets and sidewalks

Improvements to our parks and tree canopy

These are crucial projects to our future.

As these projects are funded and come online, future tax collections will be included as part of the capital improvement and operations budgeting process for the City of Beaufort. As a resident of our City, you ALWAYS have the right to comment on any part of our budget during our public hearings.

Also keep in mind that Beaufort County, and the City of Beaufort, has a significant tourism industry. While specific figures are hard to pin down, we know that a significant portion of the sales tax revenue that is collected is generated by visitors to the region. These are people who use our resources but don’t pay a proportionate share to maintain our cities and towns.

By leveraging the local option sales tax program, our communities can use dollars spent by visitors to reduce property taxes and increase local government investment in infrastructure, programs, and services.

Local governments in Beaufort County are currently working to complete the infrastructure investments that were provided for under the transportation tax program. That tax is projected to end before the end of this year. As a result, if the local option sales tax initiative is approved by voters, there will effectively be no change to the current sales tax rate. If the penny tax passes there will be:

No increase in the current sales tax rate;

A guaranteed reduction in real and personal property taxes, and;

Additional revenues for capital improvements in the City of Beaufort.

I know that there are likely to be questions regarding the sales tax program. Answers to many of these questions can be found at boostourcommunities.com. I would also encourage you to contact Kathleen Williams, the City’s communications manager, with questions, concerns, or for more information on this program. She can be reached at kwilliams@cityofbeaufort.org and by phone at 843-470-3508.

The sales tax initiative will be on the Nov. 2 ballot. For more information on how and where to vote, go to the website of the Beaufort County Board of Voter Registration & Elections, https://www.beaufortcountysc.gov/vote/index.html, or call the board at its Beaufort office, 843-255-6900.

As always, we urge you vote on Nov. 2, and to consider all the reasons it makes sense to support what we’re calling the penny boost – a boost for ALL the communities in Beaufort County.

Stephen Murray, a Beaufort native, was elected mayor of Beaufort in November 2020 and is serving a four-year term. Previously, he was a member of City Council.

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