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How I Could Spend $7.2 million in Sales Tax Revenues

A Column by the Editor
web posted January 15, 2014

COLUMN I stay amazed that the 1% sales tax commission, composed of political appointees recently, is basically dysfunctional at trying to come up with ways to spend an estimated $7.2 million in potential revenues if voters were to approve the tax. Granted, the tax, spearheaded by Edgefield County Council Chairman Dean Campbell, gives the newly created commission less than three months to come up with projects and hard figures. An impossible task.

The members of the commission are doing their best under the unworkable schedule due to Campbell's push for the tax to be on the 2014 ballot. I feel bad for them, and as I have previously written, the commission should be allowed a full two years to study potential projects with hard numbers, rather than throwing darts in the dark.

But, since Campbell wants to get the towns and the county to throw darts in the dark with fictitious numbers I thought I'd give it a shot.

I spent a total of about 15 minutes coming up with the following list of ways to spend the $7.2 million that would benefit the entire county and towns. Granted, even if all these items were included on the ballot, I would still vote against the tax.

The County recently passed a $1.2 million bond for "capital improvements" to county buildings.

In an audit report in December, the county was informed they had in excess of five months of unrestricted reserves, above the advised three months reserve fund balance, equating to well over $750,000.

With over $2 million available to do county projects, I see little use for an additional 1% sales tax.

The county wants a list of projects, so here goes my darts in the dark.

Trenton Airport: Extend and pave main runway with airstrip lighting. Pave second shorter runway and parking tie-downs on connected paved lot making airport more attractive and marketable. Install fueling station and additional hangers if within budget. This would also make the airport available for Federal funds in the future.

Cost: $1.4M

Edgefield: Purchase and remodel Mims' old Advertiser building (on historical register) and convert into theater and include parking to the rear of the building.

Cost: $1.2M

Westside, Northside and Trenton (including Bettis Academy fire coverage area): Substations for fire departments to improve ISO ratings for taxpayers. This would greatly reduce their insurance costs therefore saving them several hundred a year, probably more than they will be paying in the tax. Five stations at $150,000 each would total $750,000. One of the Trenton stations would also be fitted to house an EMS base for expansion of EMS services to accommodate a third crew no more than 7.5 miles from the TFD "as the crow flies", which would place it near the top of the 4-lane on Hwy 25.

Cost: $1M

Merriwether: Place Urgent Care / Doctor's office open 6 days a week and leased to ECH for staffing, operations and billing. Install 2 fire substations. One on the Sweetwater Community Center (SCC) property and the second (jointly staffed by EFD and MFD) at the second entrance to Mt. Vintage and Republican Rd. reducing fire insurance for residents in both fire districts. Place park at SCC behind building and complete BBQ pit with shelter.

Cost: $2.1M

Expansion of Edgefield County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center at present location.

Cost $1.5M 

Total cost: $7.2M

I have as much information supporting my suggestions as any Edgefield County or Town Official, or even Committee member, has supporting their unreleased suggestions. It would take years to study and confirm the estimates provided above.

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