Berkeley Co. Schools to put 1% sales tax on November ballot
MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCSC) - Berkeley County voters will soon get to decide if they want to increase the sales tax to fund school improvement projects.
The Berkeley County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday to put a one percent sales tax on November’s ballot.
“It’s not just Berkeley County residents that are going to fund this,” Board Chair David Barrow said. “In fact, we’ve researched, and about 30 percent, at least, of the funding for the penny sales tax will be from people who don’t even reside in Berkeley County.”
Barrow says the district has had trouble coming up with the money for some of the projects.
In the past, the district has had to raise the millage or issue bonds to raise money needed for school improvements, but they say they don’t want property owners to keep footing the entire bill for that work.
Barrow says if passed, it will bring an estimated $40 million to $45 million each year for the district to build three new schools, renovate some current schools and upgrade high school athletic facilities. He also says the district’s current budget keeps the district running but doesn’t include money for capital projects.
District spokesperson Katie Tanner said this is the first time the district has been able to implement a sales tax referendum because the county has since reached a threshold of $1 million in accommodation taxes.
Cindy Fisk, who retired in June as a teacher in Berkeley County, says she will be voting in favor of the sales tax.
“We have to have safe buildings for our children,” she said. “Even in another school I used to teach in, I had a leak that always came down my wall, and then it grew mold on the carpet, so these buildings need to be maintained.”
She also says the sales tax could help expand some schools to address overcrowding for the around 37,000 students enrolled in the district.
“I know one year I had like 36 kids. I only had 30 desks,” Fisk said. “I had kids sitting on the floor. They didn’t even have desks.”
Barrow says the sales tax could be a way for the district to keep up with the county’s continued growth…
“We’ve got to make sure that we’re doing our job as board members to satisfy the needs of a growing Berkeley County, and this is critical. We have to do this,” Barrow said.
If voters pass the sales tax during November’s election, the district says it will go into effect in March and continue for the next seven years.
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