The Orangeburg County Chamber of Commerce is taking a position against Orangeburg County Council’s proposal for a business license fee.
“The chamber is in opposition to the countywide ordinance,” President Melinda Jackson said. “We cannot support an ordinance which charges fees based on gross receipts.”
Orangeburg County officials have said the proposed business license plan would require roughly 75 cents per thousand of a business’ annual gross sales. This is capped at $10 million, where the fee would be $3,700.
A business grossing $100,000 would pay $123. A typical retail business that does $1 million in gross sales would have an annual fee of $1,023.
County Administrator Harold Young has said the license would allow the county to raise more than $1 million annually without increasing the millage rate on all taxpayers.
To raise a similar amount of money, the county would have to increase taxes by about four mills, he said. It is not allowed to increase the rate by that much in one year, however, because of a state-mandated millage cap.
Council was expected to give second reading to the ordinance during a special called meeting on June 27. But in the face of citizens voicing opposition, council postponed consideration until Monday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m. in the County Administrative Centre on Amelia Street.
A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held at the Monday meeting.
Echoing some of the statements made during the council meeting, Jackson said, “We believe that it creates a hostile environment for those businesses who are considering a move to Orangeburg County.”
Business owners and community members believe enacting a business license would make Orangeburg County less desirable for potential businesses because only eight other counties have the license requirement.
Beaufort, Charleston, Dorchester, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Richland and Sumter counties require a business license.
“The chamber has been inundated with concerned business; all of them have justifiable concerns,” Jackson said. “Inherently, the chamber cannot support an anti-business environment."
The chamber’s opposition to the business license was approved by the board of directors, she said.
Jackson said the chamber is in agreement that additional funding is beneficial countywide, but a business license is not be the way to raise the money.
“I would like to see the county rely on several other options or alternatives,” Jackson said. “The chamber’s message is there can be a pro-county, pro-business action plan.”
In a letter from Jackson to chamber members, she stated: “We value the efforts of our county and will continue to work with them for the betterment of our community; however, this ordinance presents a burden on one sector of business and cannot be supported at the Chamber level.”
A number of business owners and concerned citizens are expected to attend Monday's County Council meeting and speak during the public hearing.