LEXINGTON COUNTY

Groceries exempt from proposed Lexington County tax

tflach@thestate.comOctober 3, 2013 

Paper bag full of groceries

JONATHAN LIM YONG HIAN

— A proposed sales tax in Lexington County won’t apply to groceries, members of a panel developing a plan on use of the tax learned Thursday.

Those purchases are excused under state guidelines authorizing a referendum taking shape for a November 2014 ballot, panel adviser Ryan Slattery said.

The decision ends uncertainty among county leaders on whether groceries are among items on which the penny on the dollar tax would be collected.

“This may make it more palatable for some people,” panel chairman Mike Crapps of Lexington said.

The exemption mirrors that for an existing countywide tax whose proceeds go for schools.

But the exemption for both doesn’t apply to take-out meals and some snacks available at supermarkets.

A new tax, if approved by voters, would pay for roads, water and sewer and other improvements. It is estimated to generate $35 million yearly.

Officials in the 14 municipalities, business groups, recreation interests and other agencies face a Jan. 30 deadline to submit suggestions to the panel. “It’s my hope we get lots of options,” Crapps said.

Panel members will settle on a package by June 5 for placement on the ballot.

The go-ahead on a referendum rests with County Council, whose nine members can’t alter projects proposed.

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