County funds fewer festivals because of COVID-19 threat
By Samantha Lyles
At their Aug. 10 regular meeting, Darlington County Council approved distribution of $47,000 for the promotion of tourism-related activities, leaving $18,000 of the county’s $65,000 accommodations tax budget left unspent – largely due to so many festivals and events being canceled or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the spring, the county’s Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee received funding requests totaling $97,665, but as the pandemic dragged on and case numbers spiked, several applicants withdrew their requests or pushed their events until 2021.
The Pilot Club / S.C. Sweet Potato Festival and the Society Hill Catfish Festival both canceled their events for this year.
The Black Creek Arts Council / Yoga & Healing Arts Fest and New Vision Community Development Rice Festival were pushed to October 2021.
Florence Convention and Visitors Bureau / Racefest on The Square withdrew their funding request.
Funding went to the following applicants:
American Legion Post #13 / Darlington Veterans Memorial: $2,358
Butler Heritage Foundation / Heritage Week: $8,233
Darlington Chamber of Commerce / Freedom Fest: $3,358
Darlington Downtown Revitalization / Website: $2,608
EdVenture Hartsville / Marketing: $2,733
Hartsville Community Center Bldg Comm. / Center Theater Improvements: $12,011
Lamar Egg Scramble: $3,983
S.C. Junior Golf Foundation / Players Championship: $5,858
Southeastern Bluegrass Association / Monthly Concert Series: $5,858
In other matters, council approved third and final reading for Ordinance No. 20-04, authorizing a special source revenue credit agreement between the county and Sonoco Products Company. The ten-year agreement would defray Sonoco’s county tax burden for non-specified site improvements by instead collecting payments calculated at a 6 percent assessment and a fixed millage rate equal to 302.3 mills. Council vice chair Lewis Brown abstained from voting on this measure.
Council also approved Resolution No. 715, authorizing and approving county administrator Charles Stewart to seek bids for the construction and completion of a museum addition to the Darlington County Historical Commission & Museum.
The resolution stated that on Jan. 1, 2019, the Commission was gifted $4 million from the estate of the late Carolyn “Bet” Norment Phillips for the specific purpose of constructing a Darlington County Museum. The Commission plans to use 75% of this gift on construction and retain the remainder.
Historical Commission director Brian Gandy presented Council with conceptual floor plans and site plans for the museum addition, which will be erected beside the current Commission building on Hewitt Street.
Third reading for the updated 2020 Comprehensive Plan for Darlington County was carried over until such time as Council can conduct work sessions and review the document thoroughly.
A proposal to conduct an audit of mobile homes in Darlington County remains on the pending list.
The next scheduled meeting of Darlington County Council will be September 14, 2020, at 6 p.m., at the EMS Building/Courthouse Annex, 1625 Harry Byrd Hwy in Darlington. This meeting will be live streamed via the Darlington County Council Live Meetings Facebook page and archived on darcosc.com