About 1,800 jobs were created and South Carolina unemployment rate dipped to 4% in May, according to DEW numbers. The unemployment rate was at 4.4% in March and 4.2% in April. May’s trade transportation and utilities numbers gained 2,100 jobs but were offset by leisure and hospitality employers shedding 1,000 jobs. Among counties, Fairfield has the highest unemployment rate (5.2%) while Charleston has the lowest (2.3%).
The first meeting of a conference committee to compromise on the state’s proposed $8 billion state budget has run into a roadblock regarding $67 million intended to pay for debt. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White says the House plan is not in alignment with the Senate’s goal that the money be used for a new SLED crime lab and to help fund state prisons. While June 30 marks the end of the state’s current budget, a bill approved before May’s adjournment allows funding to continue until approval of the new spending plan.
When the Richland County Council voted 6-5 in early June to deny a tax break of 33% over 10 years for a Florida developer’s planned student housing complex on Shop Road near Williams-Brice Stadium, it was seen as a message that the Council was not returning to the era of 2014-15 when the city and county offered huge tax incentives that led to a construction boom of large downtown housing projects. Then, at its June 19 meeting, Councilwoman Gwen Kennedy offered the motion to reconsider the incentive and the Council voted 8-3 to provide the out-of-state development group developers with the tax break, which is estimated to be $4 million. Kennedy said at the meeting of the re-vote that she was motivated by the millions of dollars Richland School District 1 could receive from the development in the coming decades, and Councilwoman Dalhi Myers said she is looking forward to the creation of a $300,000 park that the developer is promising to contribute.
When SCE&G and Santee Cooper were constructing the V.C. Summer nuclear facility, they were exempt from paying S.C. sales tax on reactor parts under a state law for major manufacturers that build a plant or factory. But after the utilities halted construction at a cost of $9 billion in debt, the S.C. DOR conducted an audit for sales tax on all construction parts on the grounds that the site will never produce electricity. The bill on the back taxes came to $410 million, and with interest the total is $421 million. The utilities said they will appeal the decision, but if the decision stands it is possible the amount will be passed on to customers.
Kiawah Island’s former town administrator and former treasurer have each in the past month pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to commit wire fraud, on charges that they teamed to defraud the town of $200,00 from 2011-2015. The embezzlement, according to an indictment, included receiving additional monthly paychecks, giving themselves zero-interest payday advances of which only a fraction was repaid, and using the town credit card for airline tickets, doctor’s visits and auto repairs. It was a finance department clerk who reported suspicions of credit card misuse to the Town Council that triggered a forensic audit by Dixon Hughes Goodman. Tumiko Rucker, the administrator who had worked for the town for 10 years, and Harrison Kenneth Gunnells, who had been treasurer for eight years, have agreed to pay restitution in an amount that will be determined at their sentencing.