After speaking with bond attorneys, County Council Chairman Bill Owens was informed the county cannot tack on an extra penny sales tax for capital improvements because the school district is already doing it.
"South Carolina code states that at no time may any portion of the county area be subject to more than one percent sales tax," the county's bond attorney, Ben Zeigler, said. "So, it seems that the county cannot do a local option sales tax for capital improvement."
According to Owens, the county is back where it started in trying to figure out the best way to improve its current courthouse with the least impact on local taxpayers.
County Council was ordered by a Grand Jury last September to make changes to its courthouse facility to provide more space and security for those inside. Since that time, the county has spent $12,883 on three sets of blueprints showing what changes could be made to the current courthouse to fit those needs. The council has taken out a $2 million general obligation bond that is the equivalent to about 2.3 mills to taxpayers.
The county also set up a courthouse renovation committee with representatives from the Bar Association, Clerk of Court's office, Solicitor's Office, Sheriff's Department, a Family Court judge, public defender, Circuit Court judge, court recorder and Chesterfield County resident. After reviewing the blueprints and several other options, the courthouse renovation committee recommended in April reviving the old courthouse on the corner of Main and Green streets. Committee members said renovating the old facility would not interrupt the day-to-day activities at the newer courthouse.
Renovation plans, however, have continued to run into snags because of lack of funding. After learning that no state or federal grants were available to renovate the older building, the courthouse renovation committee suggested the county look into passing a penny sales tax for capital improvements.
With the sales tax no longer an option, Chesterfield County Council discussed a new plan during a budget work session Wednesday night. Details were not available at press time.