Possible Change To Richland County Tax

10:26 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) - A controversial vote will be made Wednesday, during a special called Richland County Council meeting about where your tax money is going.

Some Council members believe that money from the Hospitality Tax is not being shared evenly between places "in" and "out" of the city limits, but business owners disagree.

The majority of Richland County is made up of about two hundred thousand residents who live in the un-incorporated part of the county, meaning outside of Columbia city limits.

But when it comes to the two-percent hospitality tax that all residents pay, restaurants and other organizations within the city of Columbia are given more money than those outside of the city limits.

"If you are in organizations in the incorporated part of the county, the city of Columbia, you are able to get money from the city and the county but if you are in the unincorporated part of the county you only have one source for funding and that's the county and some of my colleagues feel that it's unfair," said council chairman Kelvin Washington.

The hospitality tax was adopted in 2003. It taxes customers two percent on prepared food in order to raise money to help Columbia make improvements to attract tourists to the city

A proposed plan that Chairman Kelvin Washington supports would cut funding from tourist stops like Edventure and the State Museum.

"All we are trying to do is equitably disperse those dollars for unincorporated activity," said Washington.

But business owners like Bobby Williams with Lizards Thicket are not sold on the idea.

"Spending it for items outside of the city of Columbia is great for citizens but it does nothing for tourism," said Williams.

Williams who is also the president of the Columbia Restaurant Association says the tax has brought a large sum of money into the county and everyone wants a piece of it.

"Now they got this pot of money and they want to spend it on everything but bringing tourist to Columbia."

But Washington thinks the city should worry about its part and leave the county to fund the un-incorporated parts.

"And that's all it's about, making equal distribution amongst these organizations that are trying to get established."

"If they do take this money and spend it in the wrong place...there will be a lawsuit from the hospitality association," said Washington.



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