2017 South Carolina Code of Laws
Title 4 - Counties
CHAPTER 9 - COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Section 4-9-30. Designation of powers under each alternative form of government except board of commissioners form.

Universal Citation: SC Code § 4-9-30 (2017)

Under each of the alternate forms of government listed in Section 4-9-20, except the board of commissioners form provided for in Article 11, each county government within the authority granted by the Constitution and subject to the general law of this State shall have the following enumerated powers which shall be exercised by the respective governing bodies thereof:

(1) to adopt, use and revise a corporate seal;

(2) to acquire real property by purchase or gift; to lease, sell or otherwise dispose of real and personal property; and to acquire tangible personal property and supplies;

(3) to make and execute contracts;

(4) to exercise powers of eminent domain for county purposes except where the land concerned is devoted to a public use; provided, however, the property of corporations not for profit organized under the provisions of Chapter 35 of Title 33 shall not be subject to condemnation unless the county in which their service area is located intends to make comparable water service available in such service area and such condemnation is for that purpose. After any such condemnation, the county shall assume all obligations of the corporation related to the property and the facilities thereon which were condemned;

(5)(a) to assess property and levy ad valorem property taxes and uniform service charges, including the power to tax different areas at different rates related to the nature and level of governmental services provided and make appropriations for functions and operations of the county, including, but not limited to, appropriations for general public works, including roads, drainage, street lighting, and other public works; water treatment and distribution; sewage collection and treatment; courts and criminal justice administration; correctional institutions; public health; social services; transportation; planning; economic development; recreation; public safety, including police and fire protection, disaster preparedness, regulatory code enforcement; hospital and medical care; sanitation, including solid waste collection and disposal; elections; libraries; and to provide for the regulation and enforcement of the above. However, prior to the creation of a special tax district for the purposes enumerated in this item, one of the following procedures is required:

(i) When fifteen percent of the electors in a proposed special tax district sign and present to the county council a petition requesting the creation of a special tax district, an election must be held in which a majority of the electors in that area voting in the election shall approve the creation of the special tax district, the nature of the services to be rendered and the maximum level of taxes or user service charges, or both, authorized to be levied and collected. The petition must contain a description of the proposed special tax district, the elector's signature and address. If the county council finds that the petition has been signed by fifteen percent or more of the electors resident within the area of the proposed special tax district, it may certify that fact to the county election commission. Upon receipt of a written resolution certifying that the petition meets the requirements of this section, the county election commission shall order an election to be held within the area of the proposed special tax district. The election ordered pursuant to this section is a special election and must be held, regulated, and conducted with the provisions prescribed by Chapters 13 and 17 of Title 7, except as otherwise provided in this section. The county election commission shall give at least thirty days' notice in a newspaper of general circulation within the proposed special tax district. The county election commission shall certify the result of the election to the county council and county council by written resolution shall publish the result of the election.

(ii) When a petition is submitted to the county council signed by seventy-five percent or more of the resident freeholders who own at least seventy-five percent of the assessed valuation of real property in the proposed special tax district, the county council upon certification of the petition may pass an ordinance establishing the special tax district. For the purposes of this item, "freeholder" has the same meaning as defined in Section 5-3-240. The petition must contain a designation of the boundaries of the proposed special tax district, the nature of the services to be rendered, and the maximum level of the taxes or user service charges, or both, authorized to be levied and collected.

(iii) When the area of the proposed special tax district consists of the entire unincorporated area of the county, county council may pass an ordinance establishing a special tax district. For the purposes of this item "unincorporated area" means the area not included within the corporate boundaries of a municipal corporation created pursuant to Chapter 1 of Title 5 or within a special purpose district created before March 7, 1973, to which has been committed the governmental service which the county council intends to provide through the proposed special taxing district unless the special purpose district has been dormant for five years or more. If, however, the same service intended to be rendered by the special taxing district is being rendered or is intended to be rendered within any portion of the territory of the special purpose district, then no such service may be rendered by the special taxing district without consent of the governing body of the special purpose district.

(b) In the ordinance establishing the special tax district, county council shall provide for the operation of the special tax district. The special tax district may be operated as an administrative division of the county, or county council may appoint a commission consisting of three to five members and provide for their terms of office.

(c) Notwithstanding any provision to the contrary, the county council shall not finance any service not being rendered by the county on March 7, 1973, by a countywide tax where the service is being provided by any municipality within that municipality or where the service has been budgeted or funds have been applied for as certified by the municipal governing body, except upon concurrence of the municipal governing body. For purposes of this subitem, "municipality" means a municipal corporation created pursuant to Chapter 1 of Title 5.

(d) Before the issuance of any general obligation bonds to provide a service in a special tax district and the levy of a tax to retire the bonds at rates different from those levied in the remainder of the county related to the nature and level of government services to be provided in the special tax district, the county council shall first approve the issuance of the general obligation bonds and the levy of the tax to retire the bonds by ordinance.

(e) County council may by ordinance diminish boundaries of or abolish a special tax district. It must first conduct a public hearing. Notice of the hearing must be given two weeks before it in a newspaper of general circulation in the tax district.

(f) After a special tax district is created, pursuant to the provisions of this item, the governing body of the county may, by ordinance, provide that the uniform service charge be collected on an annual, semiannual, quarterly, or monthly basis. The governing body by ordinance also may provide for monthly delinquency penalty charges by special tax notices.

(g) Any special taxing district created prior to the effective date of this act pursuant to this subsection, the creation of which would have been valid but for any inconsistency in or constitutional infirmity of this subsection as codified at the time of such creation, is hereby created and declared to be valid, and its existence is confirmed as of the date of its prior creation; provided, however, that any such special taxing district shall be subject to all provisions of this subsection as provided for in this act, including without limitation item (e).

(h) The creation of a street lighting system within a county may not disrupt the assignment of electric service rights by the Public Service Commission. The special tax district may not treat the street lighting system as one premises for the purchase of electric energy. Those lighting structures located in an area assigned by the South Carolina Public Service Commission to an electric supplier pursuant to Section 58-27-640, et seq., must be served by the designated electric supplier unless it consents to service by another supplier. Those light structures located in an unassigned area must be considered a single premises and may be served by an electric supplier pursuant to the customer choice provisions of Section 58-27-620 or by an electrical utility pursuant to the certificate of public convenience and necessity provisions of Section 58-27-1230 to serve the lighting structures planned for the unassigned areas.

After a special tax district is created pursuant to this item, the governing body of the county by ordinance may provide that the uniform service charge be collected on an annual, semiannual, quarterly, or monthly basis.

(6) to establish such agencies, departments, boards, commissions and positions in the county as may be necessary and proper to provide services of local concern for public purposes, to prescribe the functions thereof and to regulate, modify, merge or abolish any such agencies, departments, boards, commissions and positions, except as otherwise provided for in this title. Any county governing body may by ordinance abolish a rural or other county police system established pursuant to Chapter 6 of Title 53 [of the Code of Laws, 1962] and devolve the powers and duties of the system upon the county sheriff; provided, however, that such an ordinance shall not become effective until the registered electors of the county shall first approve the ordinance by referendum called by the governing body;

(7) to develop personnel system policies and procedures for county employees by which all county employees are regulated except those elected directly by the people, and to be responsible for the employment and discharge of county personnel in those county departments in which the employment authority is vested in the county government. This employment and discharge authority does not extend to any personnel employed in departments or agencies under the direction of an elected official or an official appointed by an authority outside county government. Any employee discharged shall follow the grievance procedures as established by county council in those counties where the grievance procedures are operative, retaining all appellate rights provided for in the procedures. In those counties where a grievance procedure is not established, a county employee discharged by the chief administrative officer or designated department head must be granted a public hearing before the entire county council if he submits a request in writing to the clerk of the county council within five days of receipt of notice of discharge. The hearing must be held within fifteen days of receipt of the request. The employee must be relieved of his duties pending the hearing and if a majority of the county council sustains the discharge, it is final subject to judicial review, but if a majority of the county council reverses the dismissal, the employee must be reinstated and paid a salary for the time he was suspended from his employment.

The salary of those officials elected by the people may be increased but may not be reduced during the terms for which they are elected, except that salaries for members of council and supervisors under the council-supervisor form of government must be set as provided in this chapter;

(8) to provide for an accounting and reporting system whereby funds are received, safely kept, allocated and disbursed;

(9) to provide for land use and promulgate regulations pursuant thereto subject to the provisions of Chapter 7 of Title 6;

(10) to establish and implement policies and procedures for the issuance of revenue and general obligation bonds subject to the bonded debt limitation;

(11) to grant franchises and make charges in areas outside the corporate limits of municipalities within the county in the manner provided by law for municipalities and subject to the same limitations, to provide for the orderly control of services and utilities affected with the public interest; provided, however, that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to persons or businesses acting in the capacity of telephone, telegraph, gas and electric utilities, or suppliers, nor shall it apply to utilities owned and operated by a municipality; provided, further, that the provisions of this subsection shall apply to the authority to grant franchises and contracts for the use of public beaches;

(12) to levy uniform license taxes upon persons and businesses engaged in or intending to engage in a business, occupation, or profession, in whole or in part, within the county but outside the corporate limits of a municipality except those persons who are engaged in the profession of teaching or who are ministers of the gospel and rabbis, except persons and businesses acting in the capacity of telephone, telegraph, gas and electric utilities, suppliers, or other utility regulated by the Public Service Commission and except an entity which is exempt from license tax under another law or a subsidiary or affiliate of any such exempt entity. No county license fee or tax may be levied on insurance companies. The license tax must be graduated according to the gross income of the person or business taxed. A business engaged in making loans secured by real estate is subject to the license tax only if it has premises located in the county but outside the corporate limits of a municipality. If the person or business taxed pays a license tax to another county or to a municipality, the gross income for the purpose of computing the tax must be reduced by the amount of gross income taxed in the other county or municipality.

(13) to participate in multi-county projects and programs authorized by the general law and appropriate funds therefor;

(14) to enact ordinances for the implementation and enforcement of the powers granted in this section and provide penalties for violations thereof not to exceed the penalty jurisdiction of magistrates' courts. Alleged violations of such ordinances shall be heard and disposed of in courts created by the general law including the magistrates' courts of the county. County officials are further empowered to seek and obtain compliance with ordinances and regulations issued pursuant thereto through injunctive relief in courts of competent jurisdiction. No ordinance including penalty provisions shall be enacted with regard to matters provided for by the general law, except as specifically authorized by such general law; and

(15) to undertake and carry out slum clearance and redevelopment work in areas which are predominantly slum or blighted, the preparation of such areas for reuse, and the sale or other disposition of such areas to private enterprise for private uses or to public bodies for public uses and to that end the General Assembly delegates to any county the right to exercise the power of eminent domain as to any property essential to the plan of slum clearance and redevelopment. Any county may acquire air rights or subsurface rights, both as hereinafter defined, by any means permitted by law for acquisition or real estate, including eminent domain, and may dispose of air rights and subsurface rights regardless of how or for what purpose acquired for public use by lease, mortgage, sale, or otherwise. Air rights shall mean estates, rights, and interests in the space above the surface of the ground or the surface of streets, roads, or rights-of-way including access, support, and other appurtenant rights required for the utilization thereof;

(16) to conduct advisory referenda;

(16.1) to enact ordinances to regulate solicitation within the county by requiring permits therefor, establish criteria for issuing such permits and provide for a fine of one hundred dollars or thirty days' imprisonment for violations; and

(16.2) To obtain injunctive relief in the Court of Common Pleas to abate nuisances created by the operation of business establishments in an excessively noisy or disorderly manner which disturbs the peace in the community in which such establishments are located. Such injunctive relief shall be initiated by petition of the County Attorney in the name of the County Council not sooner than ten days following noncompliance with a written notice to the owner of the offending establishment or his agent to cease and desist in the conduct or practice which disturbs the peace and good order of the area. The provisions of this item are supplemental to Chapter 43 of Title 15.

(17) to exercise such other powers as may be authorized for counties by the general law. The governing body of any county shall not create a special tax district, other than watershed district, any portion of which falls within the corporate boundaries of a municipality, except upon the concurrence of the governing body of the municipality.

HISTORY: 1962 Code Section 14-3703; 1975 (59) 692; 1976 Act No. 601; 1976 Act No. 693; 1977 Act No. 74; 1982 Act No. 420; 1988 Act No. 312, Section 1, eff February 24, 1988; 1988 Act No. 495, Section 1, eff May 9, 1988; 1989 Act No. 176, Section 2, eff June 6, 1989; 1991 Act No. 114, Sections 1, 2, eff June 5, 1991; 1994 Act No. 405, Section 1, eff May 24, 1994; 1999 Act No. 113, Section 21, eff June 30, 1999.

Code Commissioner's Note

Chapter 35 of Title 33 referred to in paragraph (4) has been repealed. The reference should be to Chapter 36 of Title 33 entitled "Corporations Not-for-Profit Financed by Federal or State Loans."

Editor's Note

Paragraph (4) of this section, as it appears in the bound volume, contains a typographical error. It is reprinted in this supplement in its correct form.

1995 Act No. 52, Section 1, provides as follows:

"SECTION 1. In furtherance of the powers granted to the counties of this State pursuant to the provisions of Section 4-9-30, and Section 6-21-10 et seq., of the 1976 Code, each of the counties of this State is authorized to establish transportation authorities and to finance, following the public hearing and referendum required in this act, the cost of acquiring, designing, constructing, equipping and operating highways, roads, streets, and bridges, and other transportation-related projects, either alone or in partnership with other governmental entities including, but not limited to, the South Carolina Department of Transportation."

1999 Act No. 113, Section 21D, effective June 30, 1999, provides as follows:

"Notwithstanding any other provision of this section or any other provision of law, the provisions of this section shall not affect, alter, or abrogate contracts existing and in effect on the effective date of this act."

2005 Act No. 145, Section 56, provides as follows:

"Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 12-43-217 of the 1976 Code, a county which conducted a countywide property tax equalization and reassessment program after 2000 which has not yet been implemented, may by ordinance postpone the implementation for one additional year."

Effect of Amendment

The first 1988 amendment (1988 Act No. 312, Section 1) rewrote paragraph (7), relating to employee discharge and grievance procedures.

The second 1988 amendment (1988 Act No. 495, Section 1) rewrote paragraph (12) adding a provision exempting from the license tax any entity exempt under any other law, and adding a provision limiting the right to levy a business license tax on businesses making loans secured by real estate.

The 1989 amendment, in paragraph (5), added the third paragraph.

The 1991 amendment, in paragraph (5), in what later became subparagraph (f), added "After a special tax district is created, pursuant to the provisions of this item, the governing body of the county may, by ordinance, provide that the uniform service charge be collected on an annual, semiannual, quarterly, or monthly basis."

The 1994 amendment, in paragraph (12), added a sentence providing "No county license fee or tax may be levied on insurance companies."

The 1999 amendment inserted "and make charges" and the last provision regarding applicability to franchises and contracts for use of public beaches in subsection (11).

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