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Leaders Talk Jobs, Improvements in State of Colleton

Leaders from towns and cities across Colleton County came together on Thursday morning to talk about updates, changes and big news happening across the county.
In a meeting called The State of Colleton, elected leaders and administrators and managers gave updates on projects happening on the county level, at Edisto Beach and in Walterboro.
Specifically, a lot of attention was given to the ongoing Capital Projects Sales Tax projects – a list of projects created with the addition of a one-cent sales tax in Colleton County. This extra one-cent sales tax will generate about $32 million over the approved eight-year span that it will run. These funds will create and add-to a series of projects that were approved by a citizen-comprised ad hoc committee.
Currently, $4 million of these funds are going toward the newly-started beach renourishment at Edisto Beach. According to officials at Edisto Beach, this project is underway.
An additional $6.65 million of these one-cent sales tax funds has also been allocated to the City of Walterboro for its “loop project.” This project will beautify the interchanges at exits 53 and 57 and will create a median throughout the town, from one interchange to the next.
Thirdly, approximately $1.69 million in the Capital Sales Tax Project will help to fund an airport terminal expansion at Walterboro’s Lowcountry Regional Airport. This expansion project is currently in the design phase. According to county officials who spoke at Thursday’s meeting, the project is expected to go to bid within the next three months. Completion of the terminal expansion is slated for the summer of 2018.
Updates on the other projects that are part of the Capital Sales Tax Improvement plan include:
$5.17 million toward a new Law Enforcement Complex, which is currently in the design phase; $1.88 million for a new solid waste transfer station for Colleton County; $1.73 million for renovations to the Hampton Street Auditorium in Walterboro, with the design portion of this plan recently completed; $691,000 for a new water line for the City of Walterboro; $3.2 million for upgrades to the county’s recreation complex; $700,000 for infrastructure upgrades at the airport and to build a new park in this area; $1.9 million to build a new taxpayer service center for Colleton County; and $290,000 to build a new recreation area for the Town of Cottageville.
The projects also include two other water improvement plans for rural towns in Colleton County, which include $1.56 million to help build a new water system for the Town of Smoaks. Additional water lines will be run through Williams and Lodge as part of a second plan for the additional sales tax funds.
“The county has begun to recover strongly from this last economic downturn,” said Dr. Joe Flowers, recently re-elected councilman to Colleton County Council. Flowers was among those who sat on a panel at this meeting and who spoke about various happenings. He specifically
spoke to the county’s financial standing.
“Financially, Colleton County closed (the year) with a strong financial position,” he said, adding that the county is “benefitting” from new investments that are now happening in the county. Flowers went on to add that the county’s bond rating is a good one, saying the county has for four consecutive years received a Certificate of Excellence for financial reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association.
“We still are confronted by the rising costs of benefits at the state level in both health insurance and retirement. This with the State government still not funding the Local Government Fund fully continues to make financial planning at the county level challenging,” he added.
Accordingto information provided from both Dr. Flowers and from the Walterboro-Colleton Chamber of Commerce, two new manufacturers came to Colleton County in 2016. Additionally, existing companies of Pioneer Boats added to their operations.

Heather Walters (1494 Posts)