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County hires group to oversee incoming project ideas

A third-party group from Columbia has been chosen to oversee the county’s new special sales-tax commission and any of the projects the county hopes to build with a pot of cash created from an additional one-cent tax.

Colleton County Council gave a unanimous vote at its Tuesday night meeting to hire Alliance Consulting Engineers for $79,000. The company will oversee the newly-created, special 1-percent Capital Sales Tax Commission, which is a citizen-appointed group that will collect project ideas from towns in the county. These projects could be chosen to receive funds each year from revenue collected in a potential new 1-percent tax. This tax will be approved or denied by taxpayers in November, and is expected to generate about $4.1 million annually in the county over the next eight years. The Alliance group will oversee any projects thrown onto the commission’s table for consideration.

“This sales tax will give citizens potential relief from property taxes, and, at the same time, we can leverage these dollars with grants and other funds to really get some projects accomplished in the county,” said Phillip Taylor, county council chairman. “The alliance will facilitate the commission, and make sure any projects submitted to the commission for consideration have cost estimates, a submission of a checklist, and a master plan. They even help decide where each project is placed on the ballot,” he said. “These people are not new in this game. That’s why we chose them.”

Taylor says the county is looking at building a new law enforcement center and also needs to upgrade the county’s landfill. The City of Walterboro has not announced which projects it plans on submitting to the commission for consideration. Other municipalities’ ideas are being collected now, said county Administrator Kevin Griffin. “We anticipate a joint meeting soon between the county and municipalities, before getting into the true project assessment,” said Griffin. According to him, the county’s list of potential needs also includes recreational upgrades, and some form of action with the Dogwood Hills Golf Course, which was recently shut down. Specifically, Griffin says the need for a law enforcement center is pressing because the sheriff’s office is currently divided into the three separate buildings. Additionally, the county’s transfer station needs to be upgraded because the county has more fuel and waste to compact and dispose of. Upgrades at the landfill include adding a recycling station, he said. “We would upgrade the municipal waste, and then focus on recyclables,” said Griffin.

The county, municipalities, and the commission must act quickly, said Taylor, to get project ideas prepared for voters before the November election. “We are in a time crunch, but we are doing this the right way,” said Taylor.

In other county news:

• Council unanimously voted to approve the renewal of a Motorola Solutions Service Contract for the sheriff’s office. Council also voted unanimously to allow the sheriff’s office to purchase a boat, motor, and trailer to add to its law enforcement fleet. Funds for the purchase will come from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which the sheriff’s office applied for.

• Council voted to allow the Band of Blue to use the county parking lot for its annual Palmetto Classic 5K Run/Walk.

• Council appointed Gale Doggette to fill one of seven vacancies on the Accommodations-Tax Board. It also appointed Darfus Pinckney to the Alcohol, Drug and Rehabilitation Board, which currently has two vacancies.

• Council went into executive session to discuss personnel matters involving the Sheriff’s Office, facilities management, and Probate. They also discussed contractual matters on the Edisto Civic Center and the economic development with the Colleton County Commerce Center. Council resumed regular session about 9 p.m.: the only vote taken at this time was to approve a new contract with Alliance Facilities, which is detailed above.

• Council announced a Proclamation of Appreciation for Ross Perot’s participation in Veteran’s Day festivities at the Veterans Victory House in Walterboro. Veterans Day is Nov. 11.

Heather Walters (1389 Posts)