The Lancaster County Council held its annual planning session and identified the council's five top priorities for the upcoming year.
On top of the council's list is capital needs. A new courthouse is the county's most immediate need, according to County Administrator Steve Willis, but while the council looks at funding mechanisms for the new courthouse, it also wants to look at the possibility of funding other capital needs.
Among the other needs discussed at the Saturday, March 1, session was a service center for Indian Land residents. The service center could also house recreation facilities, a community center, offices for building and zoning employees and a receptionist who could accept payments for taxes and traffic tickets.
"We need a place to provide county services without Indian Land folks having to drive all the way to Lancaster," Willis said. "We need to get folks where the demand for services is."
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The courthouse and the other proposed capital needs, including the service center, could be funded in one of two ways, Willis said: either through traditional bonds that would raise taxes for a set amount of years, or by using a capital projects sales tax.
The capital projects sales tax would allow the county to increase the sales tax in the county one penny.
Councilman Bryan Vaughn, who represents Indian Land, wasn't able to attend the meeting because of an illness in his family, but he said a service center is something he's been interested in for a long time. However, Vaughn said he does not support paying for the service center with either bonds or a capital projects sales tax.
"I guess the greater question for me is do you ultimately feel like you're paying enough taxes now to justify having additional services and facilities," Vaughn said.
Vaughn points out the county hasn't built a public building north of Hwy. 5 since the Recreation Center on Hwy. 521 was built. He wonders if the service center and other capital needs projects are being tied to the courthouse construction to make it more palatable to voters.
Willis said he expects the council to vote on which method of funding the capital needs projects in the next month.