Capital Sales Tax Projects
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Bamberg County Council members gave unanimous first reading approval in title only to an Ordinance containing nine proposed Capital Sales Tax Projects around the county totaling over $4.4 million dollars at their July 9, meeting, that will be part of a ballot initiative in the November 2012 election. The agreement to give approval to the proposed projects did not come without various members of Council expressing their approval or disapproval for some of the projects.

Council member Clair Guess, while acknowledging that “all the projects have value” said he did not feel the construction of a veteran’s memorial at a cost of $82,500 was an economic development issue. Guess called the list of projects “a slight of hand” in that he said this was the first time he has seen the list.

Council vice Chairwoman Alzena Robinson, who served as acting chair in the absence of Chairman Chris Wilson, noted that the tax code had been followed in the selection of each project on the list and the veterans’ memorial met the criteria for a capital improvement project. “Every project we talked about tonight met the criteria,” Robinson said adding “every community benefits.” Robinson noted that time was of an essences because the list of projects needed to be sent to the state election commission by August 15 to be on the November ballot.

Another item that drew quite a bit of discussion before being passed by a 4-2 vote was a resolution supporting the proposed Bamberg County Wellness Park by providing 67 acres of County land needed for the parks’ development.

Councilmember Clint Carter, who along with Councilmember Clair Guess voted against the resolution to set aside the land for the wellness park, noted that he had two issues with the County donating the land for the park and the first issue was the rules and regulations on the County giving away property and the other was that while 67 acres wasn’t a lot of land it “was a lot of money,” ($500,000) the County could use to pay on the two TANS (Tax Anticipation Notes) of $1 million due next year. “It should be put on a ballot, whether to donate 67 acres for a wellness park,” Carter said.

The Reverend Isaiah Odom, who along with Council members Larry Haynes, Evert Comer Jr. and Alzena Robinson voted in favor of donating the land, noted the 67 acres of land was needed to “designate a spot” for the wellness park so funds could be solicited and he noted reading from the resolution, if the park didn’t succeed, the County wouldn’t be at a loss and if it did succeed it would be “an asset to the County.”

Council member Guess called the proposed wellness park “right in spirit” but he said the timing was “absolutely wrong,” a “vague plan” developed by Clemson University “untimely and unfinished.”

Also during the meeting:

• County Finance Director Thomas M. Thomas reported the County has collected 96 percent of its total revenue for the 2011- 12 fiscal year. Total collected revenue for the month of May was $346,766, bringing the total amount collected for fiscal year revenues to $7,141,292. Thomas noted the County is still waiting for collections for the month of June. On the expenditures side: Monthly expenditures came in at $642,273. Total year-to-date expenditures are listed at $7,220,866.

• Council members gave second reading approval to a resolution in title only to establish a $250 fee for a state mandated establishment and inspection of rain water runoff of top soil in a compound at construction sites of new area businesses.

• Council members gave first reading approval to an Ordinance that would allow changes in road acceptance criteria (special situations) for dirt roads in the County that would allow for petition for the public welfare or commerce. (It was noted that these would be roads that were left off the County’s maintenance list.)

The following is a list of the Capital Sales Tax Project items given first reading approval in title only at Bamberg County Council’s July 9, meeting at the Bamberg County Courthouse. The items will appear on the ballot in the November 2012 election to be voted on by the voters of the County.

• County-courthouse renovation and expansion for judicial and administrative needs $3,541,423.

• Olar/Govan-water system back up pump $14,604.

• Olar-park shed $6,200.

• Olar-town hall renovations $37,000.

• Bamberg City-civic center renovations $589,000.

• Denmark City-Dane theatre renovations including new roof $60,000.

• Ehrhardt-downtown beautification and town hall restoration $60,000.

• Govan-park shed and park improvements $15,000.

• Bamberg EDC-veterans memorial construction $82,500.