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Town Council makes the following specific findings:
(A) Tourism is a major industry in the town , the growth and development of which the town has encouraged and supported in order to enhance its economic development and tax base and to provide a stable economy for its citizens. The town has supported this major industry by budgeting town funds, the single largest component of which is ad valorem property taxes, to meet costs necessary to provide services and facilities that are required for the well being, security, comfort and convenience of visitors.
(B) The cost of providing the special services and facilities required by the tourism industry should be apportioned more equitably between the town's taxpayers and those who visit the town and enjoy the special benefits the town provides them. It is necessary for the promotion of the common interests of the residents of the town, as well as those who are visitors to the town, to provide a method for paying certain costs by a means other than the levy of ad valorem property taxes.
(C) It is, and has been, the policy of Town Council to decrease the burden of ad valorem property taxes on its citizens by assessing charges to those who impact, but also enjoy the benefits of, town services and facilities. It is only reasonable and appropriate that those who visit the town and who utilize and are advantaged by town facilities and services contribute a portion of the costs required to provide the same.
(D) (1) Article VIII of the state constitution, which became effective March 7, 1973, has been interpreted by the State Supreme Court for over 20 years. Commenting on why the voters of the state approved Home Rule, Justice Littlejohn in Knight v. Salisbury, stated in 1974:
These changes were prompted by the feeling that Columbia should not be the seat of county government, and that the General Assembly should devote its full attention to problems at the state level. It was against this background that Article VIII was written. It is clearly intended that home rule be given to the counties and that county government should function in the county seats rather than at the State Capitol. If the counties are to remain units of government, the power to function must exist at the county level. Quite obviously, the framers of Article VIII had this in mind.
(2) This understanding of the voter's support for Home Rule has dominated the court's reasoning in upholding, accommodations fees imposed by Charleston County and Hilton Head and a hospitality fee imposed by the City of Charleston. The State Supreme Court has consistently upheld the ability of local government to impose fees specifically designed to meet the special needs of such governments.
(E) Article VIII of the state constitution and S.C. § 5-7-30 authorize the town to impose fees for certain municipal functions. This tax is enacted pursuant to S.C. §§ 6-1-700 through 6-1-770.
(F) The Council has determined that the imposition of the tax provided for herein is consistent with its longstanding attempt to provide property tax relief to town residents.
(Ord. 01039, passed 7-10-01)