Evidently, our state legislature is about to give us Aiken County voters the opportunity to increase our sales tax by 1 percent as a means to raise funds for much-needed public school capital improvements.
Furthermore, the initiative includes a provision for tapping this new revenue source to push down property tax rates.
If implemented, this plan amounts to an egregious, regressive shift in tax burden toward lower-income citizens who must spend a much higher percentage of their income on local goods and services that will become subject to this 14 percent sales tax increase (now 7 percent going to 8 percent) over the next 10 years.
How can it possibly be a good idea to shift the cost burden of Aiken County school capital improvements from those who can best afford it – property owners and businesses (who are among the greatest local beneficiaries of improved educational outcomes over the long term) – to those residents who can least afford it and then give said property owners and businesses a bonus by reducing their real estate taxes over 10 years?
This is a bad idea, unjust idea, and another South Carolina case of the powerful hoodwinking the powerless. Aiken County needs to find a better way. This one is too easy.