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If quarter-cent sales tax referendum passes, all proceeds will go to schools

Revised on: 08.13.2018 at 01:30 a.m.

Posted on: 08.9.2018 at 07:31 p.m.

By Allen Turner

If Columbus County voters approve a referendum in November increasing the local sales tax by a quarter of a cent per $1 in purchases, all the proceeds will go toward capital outlay for education, although exactly how that money would be divvied up is yet to be decided.

It is estimated that a quarter-cent sales tax increase would generate about $1 million annually.

County commissioners last month green lighted the referendum, but Monday night they unanimously and with little discussion formally approved a resolution specifying that, should the referendum pass, monies derived will go for capital improvements in the Columbus County Schools, Whiteville City Schools and Southeastern Community College. The resolution states that the amounts to be distributed among the three would be in percentages to be determined at a later date. 

It is estimated that a quarter-cent sales tax increase would generate about $1 million annually.

Commissioner Edwin Russ held five $20 bills in one hand and a quarter in the other. “I think we need to educate the public on the importance of passing the referendum and on the fact that it’s not going to have a major impact on their pocketbook.” he said. “If the referendum passes, whenever somebody spends these,” nodding at the currency he held, “it will only cost them this,” looking at the quarter.

Columbus County voters historically have been reluctant to approve sales tax increases. Russ said that if the referendum fails, he is prepared to make a motion to increase the county’s ad valorem property tax rate to meet the schools’ capital outlay needs.

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