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Commission to hear from all townships about project wish lists

Cities and towns from across Colleton County met last week to hash out a game plan as to how to spend money made from the proposed special 1-percent sales tax.

This tax will be on the November 2014 ballot for Colleton County voters: if approved, more than $4 million will be generated each year, a chunk of change that is up for grabs. Both the county and the City of Walterboro have created a special Sales Tax Commission to hear from municipalities and their needs. This commission is being overseen by a neutral consulting firm, Alliance Consulting Engineers of Columbia, S.C. At a cost of $79,000, this group will help detail any project ideas submitted to the commission for debate. If voters say yes to the sales tax in November, this consulting firm will also propose project timelines and a master plan for any construction.

So far, the list of potential projects is growing. To date, county Administrator Kevin Griffin says the county is focusing on building a new law enforcement center and upgrading its countywide landfill and recycling center. At a meeting last week, Edisto Beach announced its need for beach renourishment. “It’s a project that comes around every 10 years,” said Iris Hill, Edisto Beach administrator. According to Hill, Edisto officials have been “saving money” toward the $10 million project, but additional funding is needed. “They said they were going to work with all of us, and we all are counting on that,” Hill said, of the commission’s mission to hear from all municipalities in the county before deciding on a project or projects to focus on. Walterboro officials have not yet released details on their wish list, and Cottageville is looking at building its own public civic center. Officials from the towns of Lodge and Williams could not be reached for comment. As for the beach renourishment, Hill says the town’s need for new sand on its beaches is not “dire,” since no houses are in jeopardy. But, the project is “critical” for the town, she said.

“We have not yet met with other municipalities for project ideas,” said Kyle Clampitt, senior project manager for the Alliance group. According to Clampitt, the group and the sales commission are in the “beginning” stages for this project. He said the group and the commission will be meeting with municipalities and those mayors in the next coming weeks to get all project ideas on the table. The commission has set a January 30, 2014 deadline for all project ideas from across the county. “Over the coming months, the applications will be reviewed to make sure the requests are complete, and have accurate cost estimates attached to them,” he said.

According to Clampitt, the group will also be hosting numerous workshops throughout the county to make sure the community has submitted all possible ideas. “We want to hit all the citizens of Colleton County, so all voices can be heard by the commission,” said Clampitt. At the conclusion of these workshops, the commission will then score each project idea and rank them. The ballot will then be established, said Clampitt. “We are working toward our goals, and our timeline,” he added.

The commission is slated to meet again on Nov. 4th at 6 p.m. inside the Walterboro-Colleton Chamber of Commerce office. Commission members include Charles Lucas and David Evans, both appointed by Walterboro City Council, and county council appointees Lawton Huggins, Grahame Holmes and Joseph Hamilton.

Heather Walters (1389 Posts)