Sales Tax Referendum

Penny PhotoThe Beaufort County Board of Education has voted to place a one-penny Educational Capital Improvement Sales and Use Tax Referendum on the November 8 general election ballot for consideration by local voters.

“This referendum will allow voters to determine the method of funding used by the district to meet its growing capital needs, which include new construction and also extending the life of existing facilities,” the Board said in an official statement. “The ballot question will also include authorization to spend funds in anticipation of sales tax collections.

“If approved by Beaufort County voters in November, the tax, specified for a time period of ten (10) years, would begin in March 2017 and expire automatically in 2027. Renewal would require a subsequent approval by voters in a future general election. In general, items currently exempted from tax would also be exempt from this education sales tax. For example, the sales tax would not apply to unprepared foods. It is estimated that over one-third of the revenue generated by a sales tax of this nature would come from non-Beaufort County citizens, including both tourists and residents from neighboring counties who visit and shop in Beaufort County.

“Funds from the one-penny education sales tax referendum would be used exclusively for capital projects as specified on the ballot question; state law would prohibit the funds from being used for operations. In addition, ALL Beaufort County property owners’ taxes on debt service, including 4 percent homeowners, 6 percent homeowners, businesses, vehicles, etc., would be reduced by over 42% during the period of time the tax is in place.

“Between now and the November referendum, the Board and district will schedule multiple educational and informational public meetings in order to provide complete and accurate information to the public. Additionally, the school district will have the details of the proposal available on the district website. The Board's goal is to ensure that parents, employees, and all Beaufort County taxpayers have access to the information they need to make an informed decision in the voting booth.

“If the sales tax referendum is not successful on the November 2016 ballot, the Beaufort County School Board will use other capital funding mechanisms available that would result in an increase in the school district debt service millage.”

Following the Board of Education’s April decision to hold the referendum, Board members approved in May a detailed list of school facilities projects that would be funded if voters approve the referendum in November. Those projects include two new schools and additions to other buildings to accommodate rapidly growing student enrollments, as well as roof replacements and HVAC upgrades at numerous schools across the district.

The Board said that numerous public meetings would be scheduled prior to the November general election to provide voters with facts relating to the listed projects and enrollment growth.

For answers to frequently asked questions, click here.

Here is the list of projects approved by the Board of Education for placement on the referendum ballot:

Building additions
Beaufort High (wrestling room)
Bluffton High (wrestling and weight rooms)
Hilton Head Island High (building addition and renovation)
Hilton Head Island Middle (building addition and parking addition)
May River High (new wing)
River Ridge Academy (new addition, 12 classrooms)
River Ridge Academy (concessions building, parking and driveway)
Riverview Charter (gym addition and building renovations)
Robert Smalls International Academy (concessions/restroom/storage building)
Whale Branch Early College High (gym addition)
Whale Branch Early College High (auditorium addition)
TOTAL – $60,324,959

HVAC upgrades
Battery Creek High
Beaufort Middle
Bluffton Elementary
Bluffton High
Coosa Elementary
H.E. McCracken Middle
Hilton Head Island High
Hilton Head Island Middle
Lady's Island Middle
Port Royal Elementary
Okatie Elementary
Whale Branch Elementary
Maintenance building
District office
TOTAL – $17,381,920

New construction and land purchases
Bluffton-area land purchase for a future school site
Bluffton-area new construction (new school to meet growing demand)
Bluffton-area new construction (new school to meet growing demand)
TOTAL – $112,379,209

Roof replacements
Beaufort High
Bluffton Elementary
H.E. McCracken Middle
Hilton Head Island High
Hilton Head Island Elementary IB
Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts
Hilton Head Island Middle
Joseph S. Shanklin Elementary
Lady’s Island Middle
Islands Academy
Robert Smalls International Academy
Whale Branch Middle
Maintenance building
District office
Bluffton Elementary (waterproofing exterior walls)
TOTAL – $27,022,435

GRAND TOTAL – $217,108,523

In addition to the sales tax question on the ballot, a separate question will be on the ballot to authorize Beaufort County School District to issue bonds.  Those bonds would “jump-start” the amount of cash available to fund the construction/maintenance projects approved by the voters as part of the referendum.  Revenue collected from the sales tax would be used to pay off the bonds.  With this in mind, below you will find examples of the two questions on the November 8 ballot:

Ballot Question for Education Capital Improvement Sales Tax
Ballot Question for the General Obligation Bonds in the Amount of $217M

Public Information Presentation
May 31, 2016 Board Presentation-Revised for August 2, 2016 Board Actions

Informational sessions are scheduled at the following locations:

September 28, 2016 - Hilton Head Cluster - Hilton Head High School (6:00 p.m.)
September 29, 2016 - Whale Branch Cluster - Whale Branch High School (6:00 p.m.)
October 6, 2016 - Beaufort Cluster- Beaufort High School (6:00 p.m.)
October 10, 2016 - Bluffton Cluster - May River High School (6:00 p.m.)
October 24, 2016 - Battery Creek Cluster - Battery Creek High School (6:00 p.m.)

Sales Tax Referendum FAQ

Like most school districts in South Carolina, Beaufort County School District seeks advice from outside experts to assist with achieving our financial goals and objectives in our long term capital plan.  Capital funding for a referendum can be very complex especially when involving a new method of funding such as the Educational Capital Sales Tax.  The attached video prepared by the District’s financial advisor, Brian Nurick of Compass Municipal Advisors, may help tax payers understand how the District can achieve a 42% decrease in debt service taxes for all Beaufort County property owners while supporting our 10 year capital plan. For a short informational video click here.

Capital Funding Plan

Below is an example of  the calculator to determine the estimated savings for taxpayers

To use this calculator to see the impact on your property taxes please click here