Indian Land voters to decide fate of Lancaster sales tax, Continuing tax will pay for key projects

The Charlotte Observer
South Charlotte News (York, Steele Creek, Indian Land)
Sunday, November 02, 2014

Lancaster County voters will decide this week whether they want to continue a one-percent sales and use tax.

The new tax would begin in 2016 and last for up to seven years. The sales tax would pay for:

  • Upgrading the public safety radio system.
  •  Upgrading Lancaster County Library structures and systems.
  •  Resurfacing state and county roads.
  • And to create a forensics crime laboratory for the sheriff’s office.

The curent 1-percent sales tax was approved in November 2008 and will expire at the end of 2015. The proceeds pay for the 33-million-dollar, newly-constructed courthouse.

The proposed sales tax would not increase the current 7-percent sales tax in Lancaster County. However, if approved, it would continue the 7-percent tax from 2016 up to 2023 and cover the new projects.

The county also will sell bonds worth $16.5 million. The sales and use tax money would pay-off the bond/bonds principal and interest. The bond money will allow the county to quickly start some projects instead of waiting years for the money. The bond money would be spent this way:

  • $12 million for resurfacing roads.
  • $4.5 million for upgrades to the public safety radio system.

The sales and use tax money would break down like this:

  • $238,000 for the forensics crime laboratory.
  • $3 million for completion of the public safety radio system.
  • $8 million for Lancaster County library upgrades.
  • $14 million for completion of the road resurfacing project.

The total cost for all projects is $41,738,000.

Projects needed

According to Indian Land Fire Chief Joe Pezzuti, upgrading the public safety radio system is crucial.

“We have spotty service at best in the Panhandle (Indian Land),” said Pezzuti, 55, who lives in Sun City.

“These (improvements) may mean more to the Panhandle than all of Lancaster County … I can name numerous incidents where we’ve needed to communicate with bordering cities and counties and couldn’t because the system is outdated.”

The proposed $7.5 million covers the cost of a new public safety radio system for law enforcement, emergency medical agencies and fire services. The funding includes cost for a radio system engineer to determine the most effective and cost efficient radio system for the county.

The $26 million dollars proposed for road resurfacing improves roads from the Panhandle south to the county line. The bond money will resurface a collection of the worst roads. Some of the roads on the bond list include: Indian Land’s Little River Road, Henry Harris Road and South Winds Drive.

The proposed money for the forensics crime lab would give the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office the ability to process drugs and forensics evidence locally instead of sending material to the State Law Enforcement Division in Columbia.

Public comment

The public had until May of this year to submit comments to the Capital Project Sales Tax Commission and the projects included in the final proposal were agreed upon in September.

The ballot states that a ‘yes’ votes “in favor of imposing the tax for the stated purposes and authorizing the issuance and sale of bonds in connection therewith.”

S.C. District 16 Representative Greg Gregory has lived in Lancaster for 41 years. He said he believes the reauthorization of the sales tax has merit. “The best thing about a sales tax is it is equitable. Property tax is not. This proposal allows all projects to be paid for by all the people, plus North Carolinians shopping in Indian Land. In York County, 40 percent of the funds for its “Pennies” projects have been contributed by outsiders.”

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