The 2 percent hospitality tax is charged every time we buy prepared foods in Richland County, from a fast food burger or hot dog to a meal in a five-star restaurant. There is no getting around it.
The use of those taxes is restricted by state law to the promotion of “tourism”; the money can’t be used to upgrade roads and other infrastructure unless done so in conjunction with tourism.
One of the uses I envisioned was to create a venue that would offer reunions, fishing tournaments, weddings and conferences while also providing a use to county residents as well as infrastructure upgrades in the area.
Richland County abandons plan to open facility on Lake Murray
Over the years, I have been asked why northwest Richland County never sees any refund from the hospitality taxes we pay and why Richland County doesn’t have a location that provides residents public access to Lake Murray.
After a couple years of looking, we finally located property that could answer both concerns. The property was ultimately purchased just as any other state or county purchase would be done. In addition, a feasibility study was conducted, which recommended uses similar to those mentioned above and other feasible options to consider. Nothing was ever to be definite until Richland County had input from residents.
In the end, residents did not feel such a tourism venue was compatible with the current character of the surroundings. After I listened to residents’ concerns, we decided not to develop the property, which ultimately will be sold.
The $2 million used to purchase the property was 100 percent from hospitality taxes.
I am still hoping to find a location in northwest Richland County that will allow the use of these hospitality taxes to provide for something residents truly need and want in our community, while satisfying the tourism requirement.
We can use those taxes for our community or allow them to be used elsewhere in Richland County, while still paying them. I am open to suggestions and welcome them.
Richland County Council Member