Dorchester County voters to decide on new libraries, parks

Dorchester County Councilman Willie Davis. Provided.

Dorchester voters will decide Nov. 8 if they want to pay higher taxes for new parks and libraries.

County Council voted 6-0 Monday for an ordinance to put a referendum on this fall’s ballot asking voters whether they support a plan to raise $43 million, with $30 million going to libraries and $13 million to parks. Councilman George Bailey was absent.

If approved, the measure would add about $48 to the annual property tax bill of a $200,000 owner-occupied home.

“You are looking at a dollar a week,” said Councilman Jay Byars. “A dollar a week. I think we can make that work.”

Councilwoman Carroll Duncan said she has heard from several people questioning why the issues are being combined into one referendum.

“I understand wanting it to be two different issues, but I think with it being time sensitive, I cannot support trying to change it now,” she said. “As I understand it, we wouldn’t be able to get it on the November ballot.” The deadline to get it on the ballot is Aug. 15.

The referendum would provide the funds to replace the outdated and small George H. Seago Jr. library branch at 76 Old Trolley Road in Summerville, add a new facility in North Charleston, and buy land for another in Ridgeville, officials said.

The parks money would pay for development of a park at the courthouse in St. George as well as developing the Ashley River Park and Pine Trace, both in Summerville.

“The rural people are really concerned about this referendum not mentioning them,” said Councilman Willie Davis. “They want to make sure if they are going to vote for a referendum that their community is included.”

Both Parks and Recreation Director Eric Davis and library business manager Pinky Harriott have been visiting community groups to educate the public, Duncan said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at (843) 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.