With a record of successful building and renovation projects over the past five years, the Charleston County School District is hopeful they can continue that positive record with another opportunity to put public dollars to good use. On Nov. 2, as we vote for statewide and local candidates, several referendums will also appear on the ballot. Among them will be the one-penny sales tax under Local Question 1. If passed, the public will begin to see construction as early as next summer on several schools.

Voting “yes” on this referendum will allow for a six-year-long one-cent sales tax increase to occur that would benefit 17 school facilities in the Charleston County School District, add approximately 1,000 jobs per year, and provide $450 million to the local economy. Most of all, it would rule out the need for an additional increase in property taxes. This shared cost gives those who visit and shop in our area the opportunity to contribute rather than placing the burden on local property owners. The increase in the one-penny sales tax will not affect items such as groceries and prescription drugs.

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, Charleston Trident Association of Realtors, and Mayors Riley, Summey, and Swails are making the case to prevent continued overcrowding in our schools, an eight-year-long increase of up to 11 mils on property taxes, and a two-year delay in potential short-term building projects by urging voters to pass the one-penny sales tax.

While space doesn’t permit me to lay out all of these projects, the proposed list of where the money will be spent is spread throughout the county. It addresses the safety issue of four downtown schools, provides 21st-century equipment and facilities to 14 schools, and provides needed seismic evaluations for six schools. The benefit of advance designs on athletic improvements to 10 high schools will also enhance the location of the communities the schools are in, and it will increase the property value of one’s home.

We must also be aware that this effort is completely different from addressing the need to not furlough teachers and administrators. The way the state funds school systems provides for general operation costs. This has decreased tremendously this year and is likely to decrease in the near future if that funding system is not improved. Therefore, the funds in the general operating account cannot be spent on the capital campaign and vice versa.

Some have argued that they are not in support of this capital campaign due to the economic times we are in. While valid to some degree, people are still spending money on clothes, appliances, furniture, and a host of other everyday items, and our area remains a tourist destination. Some have also argued that now is not the time to be raising taxes. I ask you, would you rather have your sales tax increase by one cent for six years and have nonresidents contribute to this capital campaign, or would you rather have your property tax increase for eight years and only you foot the bill?

Vote yes on the six-year sales tax. The cost is shared by visitors. The school district has wisely invested public dollars in recent building projects. This will continue to lead us down the road to transforming our schools, and the proposed listed projects are inclusive and broad. This type of investment is required by those who want our children to be taught in first-rate facilities with 21st-century equipment, knowledgeable and eager teachers, and in an environment that fosters learning, development, and growth. I highly doubt that we as a community want to face the alternative if we vote “no.”