Lamar town council considers new hospitality tax

LAMAR, SC (WBTW) – The Town of Lamar in Darlington County may have a new hospitality tax. Supporters of the tax say it could boost the small town’s economy. Earlier this month Darlington County Council introduced an ordinance to start a new hospitality tax on food items sold in Lamar.

Shirley’s Pit Stop is one of the few restaurants in Lamar. Pit Stop manager David Parnell said people from across the state visit the family restaurant, especially during football season.

“It’s the oldest business in Lamar,” said Parnell.  “It’s an old building but people still come and love the food.”

Darlington County Administrator Charles Stewart said the county introduced first reading of the ordinance after the town reached out to the county for ways to pay for improvement projects. The additional tax on food or drinks in restaurants is similar to what other cities in the county, like Hartsville and Darlington, have already implemented.

“Darlington County’s unincorporated areas are already using the hospitality tax to help fund particular projects that hospitality funds may be used for under state law,” explained Stewart.  “Lamar certainly can do the same thing, if they want too.”

The 2% tax will bring money back to the town for things like roads and recreational parks like football fields. Stewart said the county is waiting for Lamar Town Council to approve a resolution saying it wants the tax. Lamar Town Council tabled the first reading at their last meeting to request more information.

“We were just positioning ourselves in the county to help them [Lamar] put that in place. To date, from what I understand, the town has not passed a resolution to put that tax in place. So the county will not do anything additional with that ordinance’s 1st reading that was done because we certainly have no intentions of enforcing this onto the town. Just providing assistance if that is what they want to do,” said Stewart. “We are prepared to move forward with them if they [the town council] want to place the hospitality tax in place.”

Longtime Pit Stop customer Abby Tadlock says she does not mind paying an extra tax on food items.

“It would be hard raising prices but I think it will work in the long run,” she said.

Stewart says until Lamar Town Council approves the resolution, the county council will take no action.

Lamar Council will meet again September 11.

News13 reached out to the Chairman Bobby Hudson, who proposed the ordinance on the town’s behalf and the Lamar Mayor William Reynolds. We did not hear back.