Debate heats up over Florence's Penny Sales Tax

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Senator Hugh Leatherman said if the Capital Sales Referendum passes, your property taxes will go up, but county leaders say the capital sales project will do just the opposite.

"People talk to me and say senator we don't need more taxes on our property, don't put anymore property tax on our property," said Senator Hugh Leatherman.

Senator Leatherman said Tuesday he will not be voting in favor of Florence's penny sales tax.

"I will not vote for the Penny Sales Tax and the reason I will not do that. My analysis shows that county council will have to put about $16.9 million in taxes on our people," said Leatherman.

Leatherman said according to his research, if the penny tax passes there will not be enough funding collected in seven years to pay for the $145 million in projects currently listed on the referendum.

Leatherman said because of that shortage tax payers will be faced with higher taxes to pay for finishing the projects.

"I chaired the bond committee in Columbia for 13 years; every state bond that is issued I have to pass judgment on it. I know how to calculate whether or not money is going to pay for bonds and this one will not," said Senator Leatherman.

Florence County Chairman James Schofield disagrees with Leatherman. He believes the tax would generate enough revenue to cover those projects.

"This is a letter from the budget and control board that Mr. Leatherman sits on and it's from Mr. Frank Rainwater who is the chief economist for the state of South Carolina," said James Schofield

In that letter sent June 6 of this year, the state's Chief Economist predicts that if this Penny Sales Tax passes, it will raise more than $21 million in just one year.

"If you take that number and multiply it by seven and then you take the page back here where it says it has grown by 1.52 percent each year on average you will find that it will raise just shy of $155 million," said Schofield.

Both the senator and the county chair did agree on one thing. Come Election Day, the people of Florence County will decide the fate of the Penny Sales Tax.

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