The 90’s began with unfinished business. The Local Option Sales Tax legislation, a priority for the Association and the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, was stuck in a conference committee as the 1989 session ended. Early in the 1990 session, the General Assembly passed the legislation, and Governor Carroll Campbell signed it into law. The Association led the campaign as all 46 counties voted on the LOST in the 1990 November elections. Six counties passed the referendum and began collecting a penny sales tax for property tax reduction and a new revenue source for local government.
The 1992 elections saw the Republican Party gain control of the House of Representatives for the first time in modern history. The new majority had run on the promise of repealing the property tax. Debate over the fiscal authority of local government under Home Rule continued until the passage of the Local Government Fiscal Authority Act of 1997. Although the Act restricted local government from new taxes without expressed approval of the legislature, it also established the local hospitality tax, the local accommodations tax and the capital project local option sales tax.
The Comprehensive Planning Act, passed in 1994, consolidated several previous legislative acts dealing with planning into one unified act for cities and counties. Local governments had until 2000 to meet the Act’s requirements.
The 1996 federal legislation deregulating the telecommunication industry led to a consolidated effort by the telecommunication industry in South Carolina to prevent municipal control over expanding use of the right of way. The Telecommunication Act of 1999 changed the revenue source from the traditional franchise on companies using the public right-of-way to a business license tax on all retail communications.
The Association continued the concept of pooled risk to control insurance cost and service by forming the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund in 1990. SCMIRF joined the Association’s two other insurance pools to offer complete insurance protection for municipalities.
The Association transitioned to its fourth executive director in November 1992. Howard Duvall, director of intergovernmental relations, became executive director upon the retirement of Don Wray.
Following on the success of the Set Off Debt Collection Program, the Association expanded its collection programs in 1992 with the Insurance Tax Collection Program. In 1998, the Association added the Telecommunications Tax Collection Program. These programs proved an effective way for cities and towns to work together under the Association to more efficiently collect these taxes.
The growth of the Association’s staff to support all of these new services led the board of directors to authorize a search for a larger building. The Association and two of the insurance pools, South Carolina Municipal Insurance Trust and South Carolina Municipal Insurance Risk and Financing Fund formed Gervais Street Associates to build a new facility. The Association moved into 1411 Gervais in November 1999.