The Calhoun County Council voted this evening to proceed (3-2 vote) with "Resolution 6-2017 Authorizing the County Administrator to Negotiate the Terms of a Lease and Option to Purchase Certain Real Property and Improvements Constituting the golf Course Presently Owned by Calhoun Country Club on Behalf of Calhoun County."
Council Vice-Chairman James Haigler, District 5, reminded those in attendance that the council wasn't "voting to buy a golf course today."
The vote was to authorize the County Administrator, F. Lee Prickett, Jr., and his team to "Negotiate the Terms of a Lease and Option to Purchase." We will not learn the details until this phase of the process has been completed. The next phase will be three readings and a public hearing before the council will actually vote on the proposal.
Vice-Chairman Haigler also stated that he wanted "the people to come here and tell us" what they want in this matter.
Council Chairman, David K Summers, Jr., District 1, emphasized that "None of us [council members] are members of the golf club;" a point that indicates this is not an area where there could be a conflict of interest.
Chairman Summers also brought up that $170,000 is received by the county each year from the state's accommodations tax (A-Tax). An A-Tax is the charge for providing accommodations in SC (i.e. hotels, motels, campgrounds, etc). Accommodations are subject to the statewide sales tax rate of 7% (5% state and 2% local accommodations), plus any applicable local sales and use tax (in that particular county). This is administered and collected by the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) on the behalf of counties. Chairman Summers emphasized that so long as the economy continues to grow and remain strong it is expected that the A-Tax monies received by Calhoun County will increase.
However, Councilman John Nelson, District 3, reiterated that these funds have typically been used in the general fund in years past to provide for items already in the budget. He specifically mentioned cops, EMS, and firetrucks as items that could possibly go underfunded if the A-Tax were shifted to the golf club at a time when our county's growth is putting increasing demands on these services.
Councilman Ken Westbury, District 2, has reservations about the club going from a private entity to a public one without adequate effort being made to seek a private investor. He used the Calhoun Times as an example of a private enterprise successfully seeking a private investor rather than calling on tax payers to purchase the business.
We will publish the dates of the three readings and the public hearing when they are announced. We will also provide the details of the negotiation as it becomes available.