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Aiken County voters approve CPST IV by large margin

November 9, 2018 GMT

By a wide margin, Capital Project Sales Tax IV gained approval in Aiken County during Tuesday’s general election.

With all precincts reporting, there were, unofficially, 36,727 votes in favor of the levy. They represented 64.96 percent of the ballots cast.

The number against was 19,813, or 35.04 percent.

“I’m very gratified that the voters of Aiken County have endorsed round four of the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST),” said Aiken County Council Chairman Gary Bunker. “This was the largest margin that the Capital Project Sales Tax has received in its four rounds. The County Council and the city and town councils worked very hard to craft a ballot that the voters would support in terms of infrastructure, public safety and a variety of other concerns. Tonight’s election returns represent a popular mandate for this critical tax.

“I want to thank those who supported it,” Bunker continued, “and for those who didn’t support it, please understand that we are going to use this money as wisely and as prudently as possible.”

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon described himself and other city officials as “very happy” about the referendum’s outcome.

“This was a need-based tax, and we are very appreciative of the voters for their support,” he said. “I think the effort to make sure the voters were informed, the transparency of it and the good communication speak to the favorable result.”

In a related decision, voters in North Augusta authorized their city to issue general obligations bonds worth up to $10.25 million to help pay for the design, development and construction of a new North Augusta Department of Public Safety headquarters.

The unofficial totals were 5,357 votes, or 66.87 percent, in favor, and 2,654, or 33.13 percent, against.

CPST IV is commonly known as a 1-cent, 1 percent or penny local option sales tax.

It is the latest iteration of a levy that was approved locally for the first time in 2000. The second version was passed 2004, and the third received approval in 2008.

CPST IV money will be collected during a seven-year period that will begin May 1, 2019 and will end April 30, 2026.

The South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office has estimated the proceeds from CPST IV will total around $163 million.

In addition to North Augusta, the funds will be divided among Aiken County, the City of Aiken and eight smaller municipalities: Burnettown, Jackson, Monetta, New Ellenton, Perry, Salley, Wagener and Windsor.

The amount each entity receives will be determined by a formula based 50 percent on population and 50 percent on point of sale.

Aiken County will get nearly $75.3 million, or 46.24 percent of the money expected to be collected. The City of Aiken will receive approximately $50.9 million, or 31.23 percent. And the City of North Augusta will receive around $30.7 million or 18.88 percent.

The eight smaller municipalities will share the remaining $5.95 million. Their portions will range from a low of $76,868 for Monetta to a high of $1,833,612 for Burnettown.

On the ballot, each recipient of CPST IV proceeds had a list of the projects and purchases it plans to fund with revenue from the tax.

The most expensive allocations on the county’s list of projects and purchases included $11 million to help pay for the construction of a new complex for the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, $9.335 million to pave dirt roads, $7.3 million to buy heavy equipment and to replace other vehicles and $4.75 million to resurface paved roads.

There also were allotments of $4.5 million to buy replacement vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office and $3.6 million for renovations at the Aiken County detention center.

In addition, there was a $9 million allocation to deal with stormwater drainage issues and make other improvements on Whiskey Road.

The City of Aiken’s list had an $8 million allotment for Whiskey Road upgrades.

Aiken’s CPST IV list also included allocations of $10 million apiece for water infrastructure projects, sanitary sewer pipe rehabilitation and stormwater system improvements.

In addition there was a $9-million allotment for parks and recreation improvements and a $3,911,319 allocation for the Aiken Department of Public Safety to replace equipment and to construct and renovate facilities.

The biggest allotment on the City of North Augusta’s CPST IV list was the $11.5 million for its Public Safety headquarters.

Other allocations included $3.5 million for wastewater infrastructure improvements and $3 million for the “reconstruction” of roads.

Among the allotments on the eight smaller municipalities’ CPST IV lists were $500,000 for water line and tank upgrades in Burnettown and $420,000 for stormwater infrastructure improvements, street resurfacing and sidewalk construction in New Ellenton.

Also on the lists were allocations of $350,000 for projects involving sewer plant renovations and sewer line installations in New Ellenton and $350,000 for water and sewer system infrastructure upgrades in Wagener.

Amendment 1 results

Aiken County voters voted against Amendment 1 by more than 50 percent in Tuesday’s election. The final numbers were 31,738 against and 24,333 in favor.

With about 60 percent of the statewide vote in at approximately 11 p.m. Tuesday, state voters also opposed the amendment. The vote was 542,938 against and 352,291 in favor.

A yes vote would allow an amendment to the S.C. State Constitution that would let the governor appoint the state superintendent of education. A no note would keep the state superintendent an elected position.