Dorchester County Council agrees to accommodations tax payout for Middleton Place museum
ST. GEORGE — Everybody made nice. A month after a ruckus over paying accommodations-tax money to improve a Middleton Place museum, the allocation was given, politely.
Dorchester County Council approved the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee recommended payments Monday, even though they were virtually the same recommendations council tabled in September, asking the committee to re-evaluate.
Council members had raised concern over the recommended allotment of $9,500 to Middleton Place museum for fire prevention/electrical upgrades. Tracey Todd, the committee chairman, also is the Middleton foundation’s vice president for museums. And the county is in a legal battle with the foundation, trying to change the property tax status of 11 lots owned by Middleton Place Equestrian Center LLC.
The lots have been subdivided between the horse farm at Middleton Place and the Middleton Oaks development. Charles Duell, the foundation president, is the registered agent for the equestrian center company. The lots are now zoned — and taxed — for agriculture.
The county wants to rezone the lots as development property, a change that would bring in tens of thousands dollars more in property tax.
The accommodations tax money is supposed to support activities that increase hotel occupancy. Middleton Place, the National Historic Landmark plantation site on Ashley River Road, pulls in more than 100,000 visitors per year, making it one of the county’s few big-time draws, and its hotel business alone pays more than $32,000 per year in accommodations tax.
But in a ruffled exchange in September, council members questioned the appropriateness of the payment, even though Todd left the room and did not vote on the committee’s decision.
On Monday, Todd brought back the recommendation. The only exchange was thank yous. The council vote was unanimous.
Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.