At their October 19, 2016 meeting members of the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area Board of Directors voted to not support the sales tax referendum on the November 8th ballot in Charleston County.
Although members agreed on the need for additional funding for public transportation and green space, the League has strong concerns about many aspects of the proposed ordinance, specifically:
- Failure to prioritize specific projects to be funded by the tax.
- The willingness for Charleston County to pay for projects that the State of South Carolina should fund.
- Charleston County's exemption from annual independent audit reporting.
- The inclusion of the sales tax as part of our local utilities as a "Use Tax".
- Charleston County's questionable method of distinguishing between projects of regional importance and local importance.
The League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area has a strong position of support for increased funding for an efficient, environmentally sound and fully coordinated regional public transportation system. The League recognizes that the referendum, if passed, will provide additional funding for public transportation; however, board members cannot support the overall referendum because of deep concerns with Charleston County Council's lack of commitment to guarantee provisions for:
- A comprehensive plan to ensure all entities receiving tax revenues will be held accountable for expenditures.
- Assurance that the percentages allocated for public transportation and green space would remain intact throughout the life of the sales tax and not be diverted to fund higher profile, unrelated projects.
- A plan for public participation during all phases of project planning and implementation.
Reservations about the above-listed issues are so strong that the League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area is committed to closely monitoring subsequent actions and reporting them to the public should the referendum pass.