By Stan Welch
The Anderson County Council held a special called meeting Tuesday night to address two issues being considered for inclusion as referendums on the general election ballot in November. The issues concern the implementation of a countywide hospitality tax to fund recreational programs in the unincorporated areas of Anderson County, as well as the question of whether to allow Sunday sales of alcohol.
The referendum question concerning whether or not to impose a hospitality tax in the unincorporated areas of the county, will be advisory in nature. If approved, the referendum could either be ignored by the Council, or they could present an ordinance enacting the tax. That ordinance would require three readings.
Currently, every municipality in the county already has a two per cent hospitality tax on all prepared foods sold in restaurants or stores. The county tax would not be imposed in addition to that; all revenues currently collected by the municipalities would continue to accrue to them. The county tax, if implemented, would provide revenue for the county to use in establishing and improving county recreational facilities. Revenues collected will be generated mostly along the interstate at the various exits, which have concentrations of restaurants and convenience stores.
The referendum on Sunday sales would be binding. Prior to the election, the Council would have to approve an ordinance (involving three votes and a public hearing) defining the details of the Sunday sales. For example, would the law include off premises and on premises sales? Would it include wine and beer only, or would liquor sales also be allowed. The ordinance, as passed and presented on the referendum ballot, would be binding upon approval by the voters and would become law with no further action by the Council.
A referendum from Spartanburg County several years ago allowed only for off-premises sale of beer and wine. That referendum was approved by a vote of 63 per cent to thirty seven per cent. The city of Spartanburg approved the question of Sunday sales by seventy four per cent to twenty six per cent. Each municipality within a county must adopt or refute the issue of Sunday sales individually.
Other nearby locations such as Greenville County (70 per cent) and the city of Easley (58%) also approved the sales. The data provided does not reflect whether on premises liquor consumption was included in the referendum question in those votes. Pendleton already has Sunday sales, as does Piedmont, just across the line in Greenville County.
If the Anderson County Council approves putting the issue to a referendum vote, the result would be binding. The ordinance, as passed and presented on the referendum ballot, would be binding upon approval by the voters and would become law with no further action by the Council.
By Stan Welch