Now that Berkeley County Council has dropped its bid to pass a hospitality tax before the city of Goose Creek, the city can move ahead more purposefully, the mayor said Tuesday.
“We have a reprieve now that the county is not usurping our authority,” Mayor Mike Heitzler said.
Goose Creek passed first reading on a 2 percent tax on prepared food and beverage last week and was set to give the matter final reading on Thursday. The tax is projected to bring in $1 million annually.
County council, meanwhile, passed first reading of a 1 percent hospitality tax in May that would have limited Goose Creek’s tax to 1 percent. Councilman Tim Callanan said the action was to stop Goose Creek from passing the tax. Instead, on Monday, he led a bid to vote the measure down, opening the door for Goose Creek.
Most of the residents of Goose Creek who spoke about the issue during a public hearing at Tuesday’s council meeting said they believe the tax will pass.
Unlike other taxes, “You can choose to pay it or not,” said Yvonne Turner. The tax will be added onto the bill at restaurants.
Most of the neighboring towns already have a hospitality tax.
Councilman Franklin Moore handed out information before the meeting explaining that if residents want the city to improve, there are three options for raising money: accommodations tax, a property tax increase or a hospitality tax.
The city has few hotels and motels to generate an accommodations tax, and Goose Creek has not increased property taxes in 34 years, Heitzler said. That leaves the hospitality tax.
During its initial reading, Councilman Jerry Tekac cast the dissenting vote, saying that he felt the tax money needed to be earmarked for specific projects.
The county’s action “gives us the opportunity to sit down and full look at the issue,” he said.
On Tuesday, residents made the same request, asking that the money be spent to improve recreation facilities.
Moore’s literature said the money will be spent for phase 2 of the community center; an amphitheater; parks and green space; and repairs and improvements at the city-owned Crowfield Golf Course.
Council planned to give the tax final reading on Thursday, but instead voted to hold a workshop to discuss the issue. It is open to the public but comments will not be allowed.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or www.facebook.com/brindge.
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