Cayce leaders urging residents to contact lawmakers about Amazon deal

CAYCE (WACH) -- As lawmakers prepare to reconsider giving a tax break, Cayce leaders are asking residents to get involved.

In a message addressed to the city's residents, the mayor, mayor pro-tem and two council members urge those who want the Amazon jobs added to the local economy to contact their legislators.

"I and the undersigned Council members are writing to ask you to make a phone call or send an email today to your local Legislators to let them know that you would like them to do ALL they can to bring Amazon here." Mayor Elise Partin says. Click here to read the entire letter.

The say the plans would create over 1,200 full-time jobs.

Thursday, House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham said he will bring a sales tax break for the online retailer back up for debate on the House floor next week.

Amazon coming here brings alot of money to our state and it brings alot of money to the Midlands and certainly our area in Cayce," says Mayor Partin.

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The vote would come three weeks after the House rejected the five-year sales tax exemption that Amazon sought to open the warehouse in Lexington County. The break was negotiated under former Gov. Mark Sanford but opposed by Gov. Nikki Haley and tea party activists.

"We just feel like it's an issue of fairness. Small businesses have to collect sales tax at point of purchase. We think online retailers should do the same thing. It's better for fair and equal competition," says Brian Flynn, SC Alliance for Main Street Fairness.

Bingham says many legislators have asked him to try again. The Republican from Lexington County says some legislators who voted against the deal thought the Seattle-based company was bluffing.

Amazon abandoned plans hours after the vote. Company vice president Paul Misener said he didn't expect negotiations with lawmakers to continue.

Supporters have said South Carolina needed to honor the deal made by the Commerce Department under Sanford. They said it would otherwise give the state a reputation of not keeping its commitments, and hurt the state's ability to attract employers in the future.

Mayor Partin says the Amazon distribution center would not only help the local economy, but schools in the Cayce area.

"There's five school districts in this area that will get a million dollars just the first year and over the life get $13.2 million dollars, that matters. Our school districts are scrambling to try to keep teachers," says Mayor Partin.

Gov. Nikki Haley says she's focused on keeping a fair market in our state and keeping the companies that are here happy.

Since the announcement that the deal will be reconsidered by the House, the group Stand With Main Street is reviving their campaign to urge lawmakers to block the tax break. The group, backed by hundreds of businesses, including Wal-Mart, originally launched the campaign during the first debate. Click here to see their new ad.

Amazon also pulled out of plans for a Texas expansion over the same sales tax debate. They're considering the same in Tennessee. However, the company announced Monday it is building a new distribution center in Indiana this summer. Indiana does not require Amazon to collect state sales tax on in-state purchases.

"The issue really is an interstate commerce issue," Lexington Mayor Randy Halfacre explains. "It's really an issue that needs to be dealt with by Congress. Unfortunately, it's bringing about a lot of controversy.

Since Amazon made the decision not to come to South Carolina, Haley has announced three major additions of jobs including a Lexington County Michelin expansion, opening of new Wal-Mart stores across the state and an organic food manufacturer bringing a plant to the Upstate.

If lawmakers approve a tax deal for Amazon a second time around to bring a distribution center to the Midlands, do you think the online giant will agree to come back? Vote in our poll and leave a comment below to weigh in.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)