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Elloree Town Hall (copy)

Elloree Town Hall

ELLOREE – Orangeburg County and each of its municipalities have benefited greatly from the Capital Projects Sales Tax, widely referred to as the “penny” tax. That’s one reason voters have renewed it four times.

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But Elloree officials dropped the ball with regard to revenue from the third round of the special tax, Mayor Mike Fanning said at town council’s September meeting.

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“To be frank we squandered (revenue from) the third penny. We left $109,000 on the table,” Fanning said. The fourth round of revenues will become available “within a year” and “we’re not going to do that this time.”

Fanning said that town officials intended to use the $109,000 to renovate the building next to the town hall into a police station and/or museum, possibly with public restrooms. But the estimated cost of the work turned out to “six or seven times as much as that,” he said. By the time the estimate was received, it was too late to reallocate the money.

Since then, town officials have decided to keep the police department in the town hall and to put the neighboring building up for sale. They already have at least one interested buyer.

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Each time a renewal of the penny tax is on the ballot, the county and municipal governments have to compile a written list of the projects they intend to pursue with the revenue that the tax would regenerate. The list is made available to voters before the election.

Elloree’s list for the fourth penny includes $200,000 for upgrades to the water system, $190,000 for repairs and improvements to town buildings and properties and $17,930 for improvements at Joe Miller Park, Loyn Park and Hungerpiller Field.

Fanning asked the council members to suggest what specific improvements would fit into those categories and provide “the most bang for our buck.”

Fanning said town officials should coordinate their actions with County Councilman Johnny Ravenell, wh owants to spend part of his penny tax allocation on improvements to the gymnasium.

At some point, the town council will need to decide what to do with the former railroad depot that once housed the administrative offices of the former School District 7. Back in 2006, a consultant said it would cost $760,000 to renovate it into a community center.

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