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City Council Meeting October 26

Public hearing on the 2005 budget
City supports sweet basket weavers in tax issue
Marc Knapp who covers City Council

The first item of last night's agenda was the public hearing on the proposed 2005 city budget. No figures were submitted, the City was just seeking views of the public. The response was hardly overwhelming. Only two persons rose to speak. One was seeking a grant of $6250 to help improve literacy in the community. In my view, the poor levels of literacy she described at length questioned education standards in our schools more than anything else. What difference is $6250 going to make to such a problem? The other speaker sought better retirement conditions for firemen.

The other item of general interest was the strong showing of sweet grass basket weavers who came to seek the support of the City to avoid paying State sales tax. They got it. The basket weavers have long held a favored position in the City and are not required to hold a city business license. They also held a favored position with the State who did not collect the sales tax from them. As one spokes lady said, they are facing a double hit - the payment of the sales tax and a demand from the SC Department of Transport to not sell their wares along Highway 17.

There were two speakers who were merchants in the Market Street area who spoke in favor of the tax on the basket weavers. Why were the weavers different from them? Why were they given the advantage of tax free sales?

Well, the Council thought they were deserving. The council members spoke of the heritage, the favorable impact on tourism and the living museum of an old industry. It voted unanimously to support the weavers in opposing the tax.

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