Organizing Referendum to Fund Projects

Plans are being made to have a referendum regarding a new local option sales tax on the Laurens County ballot during the November, 2020 general election. Mayors and Council Members from municipalities across Laurens County were present at last evening’s County Council meeting as County Attorney Sandy Cruickshaks explained the procedure state law requires for that process.

Before the explanation began, County Council Chair David Pitts told everyone present, “This will be the people’s choice, not county council’s or any other politician or special interest, it must be a grass roots effort.”

Cruickshanks distributed a copy of the Capital Project Sales Tax Act, which contained eight pages of detailed information on all phases of the tax, before and after its election or defeat. He said, “We need to follow the letter of the law and be sure we dot all our I’s and cross our t’s, so we will not have a problem later on.”

The first step is to form a commission of six members, all of which must be residents of the county. County Council must appoint three members of the commission. The municipalities in the county are to appoint the other three, who must be members of one of the municipalities as well as Laurens County. Cruickshanks explained the rather complex procedure state law requires for determining how the municipalities go about selecting the three members to serve on the commission.

He explained that after the commission is appointed, there should be meetings at the historic courthouse to select the projects to receive funding, should the sales tax be approved by the voters. He said the commission as to make the selection transparent.

If the tax is approved, it will be in effect for eight years, with an estimated intake of some $40 million. Sandy Cruickshanks explained that the projects the sales tax is to fund must be listed on the ballot in the order of their priority, showing costs of the projects.

The timeline for this new commission requires that it make decisions on the various projects so that the referendum can be on the November 2020 ballots. If the Capital Project Sales Tax is approved then, the tax will be enacted in May of 2021.