The S.C. House is set to consider a proposal this week that would extend Lexington County’s one-percent local sales tax for another seven years.
The sales tax, which lawmakers say benefits homeowners and schools, is set to expire later this year. If it expires, property taxes would rise in 2019, those lawmakers say.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, representatives will consider a proposal to extend the tax. Since its approval in 2004, the tax has sent more than $400 million to Lexington County’s five school districts to pay off money those districts borrowed to cover the cost of new buildings, improvements and maintenance.
The tax also has provided property tax relief for Lexington County homeowners in the form of a credit on their property taxes for school building bonds.
“It’s been really good for homeowners,” said bill sponsor state Rep. Kit Spires, R-Lexington. “For older people with no kids in schools, it’s a savings for them. For senior citizens and people on fixed incomes, it’s a savings.”
Depending on where a Lexington resident lives, the owner of a home valued at $100,000 can save from $142 to nearly $450 in taxes a year. Those savings, which vary among the school districts, are determined based on an area’s population and student enrollment.
Last year, Lexington County 1 – which makes up 48 percent of the county’s 750 square miles and includes 46 percent of its 286,000 residents – received more than $22.8 million from the tax. Altogether, Lexington 1, which has more than 26,300 students, has received about $199 million since the tax’s inception.
“Our commitment to our community is that we provide a world-class education. In order to do that, we must build and maintain schools that prepare not just the students of today but also the students of tomorrow,” said Lexington 1 superintendent Greg Little.
Since 2005, other districts have received:
▪ $92.2 million for Lexington 2
▪ $18.5 million for Lexington 3
▪ $28.8 million for Lexington 4
▪ $76 million for Lexington-Richland 5
Schools are the economic driver of Lexington County, said Otis Rawl, chief executive of the Greater Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center.
“People move here because of them and, subsequently, retail and other businesses move here,” he said.
Impact on your wallet
S.C. House lawmakers this week will consider a proposal that would extend Lexington County’s one-percent sales tax for another seven years. The tax provides money for the county’s school districts and also gives the county’s homeowners property tax relief. Here’s how much, in property taxes, that relief saves the owner of a $100,000 home:
▪ Lexington 1 (town of Lexington, Gilbert, Pelion, Red Bank): $218
▪ Lexington 2 (Cayce-West Columbia): $225
▪ Lexington 3 (Batesburg-Leesville): $260
▪ Lexington 4 (Gaston/Swansea): $448
▪ Lexington-Richland 5 (Chapin/Irmo): $142
SOURCE: Lexington County Auditor’s Office