County council 01

County Councilwoman Melissa Spencer presented Grand Master Darnell Leak a proclamation recognizing his history as a martial artist and his work locally as an instructor and mentor.

Greenwood County is in good financial health, according to its most recent audit report.

Josh Garvin, of Greenwood-based accounting firm Manley Garvin LLC, presented the county the firm’s unmodified opinion of the audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. An unmodified opinion, he explained at Tuesday evening’s County Council meeting, means the audit came back clean. It’s the highest-level opinion an auditor can give.

In the finances, he noted a net increase of $1.4 million in the county’s general fund, putting the account at a balance of about $10.2 million. Historically, Garvin said governments are recommended to have four to six months’ worth of expenditures in the fund balance, and Greenwood has a little more than six months’ worth.

During the meeting, Capital Projects Sales Tax Coordinator Josh Skinner asked council to consider a contract between the county and THS Constructors, the company selected to construct a speculative building in the North Greenwood Industrial Park. The building would be a part of the larger industrial park project, and THS’s bid came in below the estimated cost of about $5 million.

“The main emphasis is to attract industry, especially manufacturing,” Skinner said.

THS wants to start work immediately, with estimates the work would be done by November. Skinner’s request to council was to begin making payments to THS through the county’s general fund, which would be reimbursed late this year from collections from the CPST.

Skinner said from April to October, CPST collections are estimated to be at about $4.6 million. Agreeing to the contract now and accepting THS’ low bid would save the county money, Council Chairman Steve Brown said, rather than bidding the project again at a later date once the CPST funds have been collected.

After a closed-door session where council spoke further about the contract, they voted to approve the contract and a resolution to transfer funds totaling $4 million, as needed, from the general fund to the CPST fund to pay the payment schedule of THS.

Greenwood Mayor Brandon Smith spoke to council to pitch a new penny tax aimed at lowering people’s property taxes throughout the county. The Local Option Sales Tax would increase sales tax by 1 cent and in exchange provide funding for property tax credits.

This tax, he said, comes with the added benefit that, unlike the CPST, a portion of the funds collected can be used without restriction. Of the tax’s collections, 71% have to be used to reduce property taxes, while the remaining 29% would be split between the county and its municipalities as unrestricted revenue.

“As local governments, we don’t have the option to just make up revenue streams on our own,” Smith said. “Even if we wanted to raise property taxes to fund things, we’re limited by Act 388.”

He said the tax would have to be proposed as a referendum on the Nov. 3 ballot for county voters to decide on. Brown said he’d like to hear from the mayors of the county’s other towns, and that county council would look into their deadline to decide on a referendum ordinance.

In other news:

Council voted 6-1 to approve $12,000 of hospitality tax funds for Greenwood Water Ski Events LLC, which has agreed to host a regional water-skiing tournament in July. Scott Snape, of Greenwood Water Ski Events, said the event could draw in hundreds of competitors and will have a minimum estimated economic impact of $150,000.

Councilwoman Melissa Spencer presented a proclamation to Grand Master Darnell Leak, a local martial arts expert who has trained and worked with local young people to provide structure and discipline.

Council voted unanimously to approve an annual airport capital improvement plan, which outlines possible upgrades to the airport for the coming years.

Council appointed two new special tax district commissioners: William Kimler for Centre Court and John Hasting for Idlewood.

Council unanimously approved a revision to a county policy regarding special tax districts that ensures the policy matches state law.

Council heard first reading on an ordinance to extend and tweak an agreement between Greenwood County and Cole Mountain Greenwood SC LLC — the company behind the property currently housing Kohl’s. No action was taken beyond reading the ordinance.

Contact staff writer Damian Dominguez at 864-634-7548 or follow on Twitter @IJDDOMINGUEZ.