Sen. Tom Young files penny sales tax bill
S.C. Sen. Tom Young, R-Aiken, filed legislation on Jan. 15 that seeks to give the Aiken County School Board the option of asking voters if they would prefer a one-cent sales tax to raise funding for education capital improvements to paying additional property taxes.
According to Young, that option is already available to 20 other counties in South Carolina.
The option is not currently available in Aiken County because it does not collect at least $7 million in accommodations taxes.
If approved, the legislation would apply to all counties not currently collecting enough accommodations taxes, not just Aiken County.
“It amends existing state laws so that a county like Aiken can present penny sales tax options to voters,” Young said. “The only thing the school district can do right now is ask the public if they want higher property taxes. Under this option, they can introduce the penny sales tax.”
Young added that, if passed, funds from the one-cent sales tax would go toward whatever the school district identifies as its capital needs.
“My focus is on getting this legislation passed so when the school district introduces it, the public can vote on it,” he added.
Numbers show that the sales tax referendum would raise up to $20 million a year for seven years to address school facility needs. Because of that, the bill has already garnered support from other legislators and education leaders.
David Caver, the deputy superintendent for the school district, said the bill would help generate funding for maintenance improvements and for building projects in the county.
“We watch the cycle of our maintenance needs closely. We've been fortunate so far, but we really need to get started on these projects,” Caver said.
“We're maintaining, but we always need to be wary of the cycle of those needs.”
Keith Liner, an Aiken School Board member, said he is also excited about the potential passing of the bill.
“I'm pretty excited to see it in writing,” he said. “I'm just thankful for the efforts of the senators to introduce it.”
Young added that S.C. Sens. Nikki Setzler, R-Aiken, and Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, were instrumental in filing the bill which is currently awaiting a vote from the General Assembly.