Berkeley County Council voted down a proposed tax on food and beverages on Monday that was intended to keep Goose Creek City Council from adding a tax of its own.
Now it is up to city council to decide whether to proceed with the tax.
“In my mind, Berkeley County is targeting the city of Goose Creek,” Goose Creek City Councilman Jerry Tekac said. “It’s an awful way to do business and quite frankly, it’s a difficult pill to swallow.”
County council never intended to pass the hospitality tax that passed first reading last month, Councilman Tim Callanan said. He introduced the ordinance to stop Goose Creek from collecting a 2 percent tax on the sale of prepared food and beverages, which will be passed along to customers with other state and local taxes.
“I always intended to vote it down,” said Callanan. “My goal was to get it to second reading and have it sit there like a loaded gun and hopefully that would be enough to prevent Goose Creek from implementing their tax.”
Goose Creek city council in May first discussed adding the hospitality tax, which would generate about $1 million in income but tabled the idea until more information was available.
After hearing complaints from Goose Creek Chick-Fil-A owner Chris Walker, Callanan decided to introduce a 1 percent hospitality tax, which would affect residents in unincorporated areas of the county and in Goose Creek. The move would limit Goose Creek to an additional 1 percent from its residents.
County Council needed three readings to pass the law; city council just two.
When Goose Creek passed first reading of the tax at a special meeting on Thursday, Callanan changed his approach toward the second reading and instead encouraged other county councilmen to vote it down. They voted against it unanimously, with Councilwoman Cathy Davis absent.
“Several people on (City) Council made the comment that they are only doing this because the county council made them,” he said. “For these guys to essentially not have the courage to take accountability for their own vote and to blame us, that’s just unacceptable. ... I’m not going to let them disparage the members of county council that way.”
Callanan said city councilmen “will now have to stand up and say, ‘I vote yes for a tax increase.’”
Goose Creek passed the first reading by a 5-1 vote last week. Marguerite Brown was absent and Tekac voted against it.
Tekac said he supports the tax but voted against it at first reading because it did not say specifically how the money would be spent, although plans are to fund recreation and tourism projects.
“I believe we have to specifically tell our constituents how we’re going to spend the money and not tell them “Trust me. We’ll figure that out after the fact,’ ” he said.
Goose Creek City Council has its regular meeting today, during which the item is set for a public hearing and a special meeting on Thursday to consider the final reading.
Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or facebook.com/brindge.