Orangeburg County, SC (WLTX) - It was standing room only at Monday night's Orangeburg County Council meeting as citizens packed council chambers, eager to discuss a proposed business license fee ordinance.
The ordinance, which is 10 years in the making, would authorize the county to place a tax on businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county.
That means there would be a 75 cent tax for every thousand dollars in annual gross sales for a business.
The fee could raise $1 million for the county in one year.
On Monday night, about 15 people got up to speak on the proposed ordinance. Many of them were concerned about how this would impact current business and future business in the county.
"We lost a lot of business and industry in the last eight years," says Joe Rich, CEO of Sunshine Recycling. "You can go around Orangeburg and look at the businesses that are boarded up. We can do better than this, we can encourage business to come to Orangeburg."
"Now they are attacking the farmers, the small businessmen, the people doing yards, landscaping, flee market," says Kenneth Beason, local business owner. "I don't think it's right. I think it's overrated for what they are trying to do."
Many people who spoke during the public hearing also suggested that the county look for ways to cut the budget, with hopes future taxes would be eliminated.
"There's usually always a little bit of fat somewhere that can be trimmed off and maybe we can just help find another solution other than implementing another tax on our small business people," says Tonya Branham.
Monday's meeting was just focused on the public hearing, and no decisions were made.
County Administrator Harold Young did explain, before the hearing, a list of fee exempt businesses.
People who already have a business license in the city of Orangeburg, those who pay a business license in another county or town, and people who sell produce at a roadside vendor are just a few of the businesses that will be exempt.
Only eight other counties have business license fees. Richland and Sumter counties are the only ones in the Midlands.