County OKs sales tax vote for Nov. 6

By: Jael Pembrick - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — Voters can expect one more decision to make on Nov. 6 after Scotland County commissioners approved the addition of a quarter-cent sales tax referendum.

Approval of the referendum by voters would change Scotland County’s 6.75 percent sales tax increase to 7 percent.

The sales tax would affect anyone who shops in Scotland County, including those who stop for gas, food, lodging or who come to shop at the various stores.

“It’s a minimal amount and that $700,000 (it would raise) would go to provide some capital funding that the county would apply toward the vast majority of the operating cost,” said County Commissioner Guy McCook.

The operational revenue would go toward building a recreation and community center.

The recreation center is going to be built by Parks and Recreation, which Director Bryan Graham is calling a multi-generational center. It will offer classes and activities for everyone in the community. Currently the plans include a gym, indoor swimming pool, classrooms, elevated walking track and outdoor water feature that will be attached to the splash pad.

The 40,000-square-foot center will likely cost $10 million to build, estimations so far are that it will take $500,000 to operate annually. Parks and Recreation wants to keep fees for the center low so everyone in the community can use the center.

McCook said, “If the fees are going to be minimal, which is what we want, then as a community, we need some source of revenue to support that additional expense.”

The recreation center comes after years of community members coming to government meetings and officials asking for a community center to be built in Laurinburg.

The board also discussed a future goal is to have partners help on the capital cost of construction so more could go to funding the center.

County Manager Kevin Patterson said, “Unless partners can contribute significantly more … without the added revenue this project effectively cannot proceed.”

One factor the members had to battle was the right time to put the optional sales tax on the ballot.

The board had to submit the referendum by Aug. 10 or wait until the 2020 elections to place it on a ballot. Commissioner Carol McCall wanted to make sure the public knew about the benefits before adding it to the ballot.

McCall asked about positioning and how long the ballot would be — the answer was they would look into if they could move where the referendum will be placed and the length of ballots varies between counties.

Jael Pembrick can be reached at [email protected]

Jael Pembrick

Staff writer