Town gets its first seat on sales tax panel – Coastal Observer


Town gets its first seat on sales tax panel

Using some of the revenue for resilience could aid the town and the county, Mayor Brian Henry says.

The town of Pawleys Island will have a seat at the table as Georgetown County prepares a package of capital improvements to fund through a 1-cent sales tax.

It took 15 minutes this week for the two members of the ad hoc Capital Projects Sales Tax Commission who represent the city of Georgetown to select Mark Hawn to fill the third municipal seat on the six-member panel.

Hawn is a managing partner with EY Consulting, formerly known as Ernst & Young. He also serves on the Pawleys Island Planning Commission.

“Mark is one of those people who will be strategic,” Mayor Brian Henry said.

The capital projects sales tax requires voter approval, and Georgetown County Council agreed in October to start the process to draft a referendum ballot for the November 2024 election. A similar tax was approved in 2014. One was defeated in 2012.

This is the first time that the town of Pawleys Island has had a representative on the commission. The process is established by state law. It gives the county three seats on the commission. The municipalities get three seats based on population.

But under the formula established by law, Georgetown is eligible for two seats, but neither Pawleys Island nor the town of Andrews is eligible for one seat. The law requires the two Georgetown appointees to fill the seat with someone from one of the other two municipalities.

Harris Chewning and Reed Tiller, the city’s appointees, met Tuesday. They went into a closed door session, allowed by the state Freedom of Information Act to discuss appointments to public bodies, and returned to vote to seat Hawn.

The town of Andrews nominated Jennifer Coleman, a reading and math interventionist at Andrews Elementary, and Victoria Fisher, who is currently not working, according to her application.

Pawleys Island Town Council nominated Hawn before the county realized that each municipality wouldn’t get a seat on the commission. 

After the process became clear, Henry sent Hawn’s application to Angela Christian, the county administrator, and Georgetown Mayor Carol Jayroe. He said he was inspired by Tiller’s comment in an interview that the choice would be based on qualifications.

Pawleys Island’s population in the last census was 130. The population of Andrews was 2,275.

The town’s application was more detailed than the one used by the county. It asked Hawn about his qualifications for the sales tax committee, his interest and his related experience.

“My 40 years business career with two large, global consulting companies, was dedicated to improving organizations, governments and communities,” Hawn wrote. “I spent the majority of my career doing strategy and improvements work, all project based, which is very similar to how these types of efforts operate.”

His interest in serving “is to bring the strengths and blessings I have been entrusted with to bear for the community I live in.”

In addition to his work for the town, his experience includes serving on the boards of the Atlanta and Georgia chambers of commerce, a state reading task force in Georgia and a variety of nonprofit boards.

Asked what he could contribute to the sales tax commission, Hawn wrote about building trust and creating “the environment for change and improvement.” He also estimated that he has been involved in over 500 projects.

Henry was pleased that Hawn was selected.

“The appointee that we put forward should have an eye toward Pawleys Island, but Mark needs to have the perspective of the whole county in mind,” he said.

There are a couple of areas where Henry sees the interest of the town and the county overlapping: recycling and resilience.

The town discovered in 2019, before Henry took office,  that the recycling program it started in 2010 was sending material to the county landfill because it wasn’t properly sorted. This year, residents asked the town to come up with a true recycling program.

“Recycling is an area that benefits everybody in the county. It’s an idea that’s been put forward long before I became mayor,” he said.

But Henry toured the county’s recycling facility this summer when items were piled high outside a sorting machine that was installed almost 20 years ago. He thinks an upgrade would be a worthwhile capital project.

The town has also started work to carry out a sea level adaptation study completed last year. It has $250,000 from the state and $150,000 in federal infrastructure funds to get started with drainage projects. Henry would like to get funds for a living shoreline project that would help protect the island’s roads from flooding on high tides.

The county-owned parking lot on the south end of Pawleys Island is the largest free public beach access in the county, he noted.

“People have to drive through saltwater to get to a public access. It’s an issue for Georgetown County citizens who want to come to the beach,” Henry said.

While he understands that the projects listed on the sales tax ballot need to have broad voter appeal, “even if we got a small percentage, we could put it to good use,” Henry added.

The sales tax is estimated to generate about $10 million a year. Unlike the previous capital projects sales tax, the county won’t be able to borrow money and use the tax revenue to repay the bonds because it has reached its debt limit with a $67 million bond issue to build a new jail.

In agreeing to move forward with the referendum, County Council members said the makeup of the commission was key to getting to projects that fit the financial constraints while meeting needs and appealing to voters.

The council appointed Gary Cooper, owner of Palmetto Infusion, and Ashley Nelson, senior director of the Bunnelle Foundation, who live in the Pawleys Island area, and Robert Crenshaw, who is retired from the state’s readySC job training program and lives in the western part of the county.

The council also had applications from Dan Stacy, who chaired the 2012 commission; Doug Eggiman, the former Midway Fire and Rescue chief; and Dave Philips, who is chairman of the private Willbrook Plantation Road Maintenance District. They all live in the Pawleys Island area.

There were also applications from Franklyn Nelson and Dennzon Winley, who live in the Georgetown area.



Georgetown County Board of Education: First and third Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Beck Education Center. For details, go to Georgetown County Council: Second and fourth Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Council Chambers, 129 Screven St., Georgetown. For details, go to Pawleys Island Town Council: Second Mondays, 5 p.m. Town Hall, 323 Myrtle Ave. For details, go to   , .