Capital sales tax commission members chosen

The Laurens County Council needed several ballots and two separate discussions in executive session, but finally filled out the six-member commission that will oversee next year’s Capital Sales Tax Referendum.

The referendum will be on the ballot for county voters in the 2020 General Election in November of next year. The proposed referendum will add a 1-cent tax on goods and services purchased in the county. Funds raised would go toward capital projects to be determined by the newly appointed commission.

The members of the commission are:

• Former Laurens mayor Sharon Brownlee (appointed by the City of Laurens)

• Walter Hughes III (appointed by the City of Clinton)

• Scott Cook (appointed to represent other municipalities in the county)

• Bobby Smith of Mountville

• George Austin of Clinton

• John Irwin of Laurens

Council emerged from its first executive session and chose Austin and Irwin from among seven nominees on its first ballot.

Needing a majority of four votes for the final member of the commission, council members seemed deadlocked after two more ballots and returned to executive session.

Once they emerged from the second executive session, it took two more ballots for Smith to be elected for the final slot.

State law limited the size of the committee to six, even though Laurens is divided into seven districts.

Council voted 6-0 to accept the commission. Council Vice Chairman Joe Wood left the meeting without comment prior to the vote.

County Council Chairman David Pitts said he was pleased with the makeup of the commission following a meeting that lasted for more than three hours. Pitts had said it was imperative for council to choose a commission that reflected the overall makeup of Laurens County in terms of gender and race.

“I think it’s very representative (of the county), and I’ll just look forward to what the commission does,” Pitts said.

There was no announcement as to when the commission will hold its first meeting. In addition to deciding what projects might be undertaken if the referendum passes, the commission members will determine how best to present and promote the referendum to the voters.

 

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