Penny sales tax debate continues

Columbia (WACH)- The penny debate continues. The Group Citizens for a Greater Midlands hosted a public forum Wednesday to encourage voters to say yes to the penny. The referendum asks voters to raise the sales tax from 7 cents to 8 cents-on-the-dollar to pay for road improvements, bus services, bike lanes, sidewalks and green space projects.

A small but interested crowd gathered at the Capitol Senior Center to hear about how the proposed penny sales tax would be good for Richland County.

"If you think you may ever need the hospital you might need the buses," says Caroline Whitson with Citizens for a Greater Midlands. When it comes to the penny sales tax Whitson feels voters should say "yes" because she says the bus system will shut down if this referendum doesn't pass.

Whitson says, it will affect people who don't ride the bus, people who work in hospitals and restaurants| many of them rely on buses, and if the buses are gone, they have no option.

Earlier this week an equally passionate crowd met to hear why the tax is not needed. Barbara Wyatt helped form Citizens Against the Tax Increase. She says there has to be another way.

Wyatt says, "Using some of the accommodation tax might be an avenue to look at, maybe continuing on with the car tax, maybe even a half a penny just for the purpose of funding the busses, but not go into the road repairs."

Voters will decide for themselves which side of the coin they're on when they head to the polls on November 2nd.

For more information visit the Citizens for a Greater Midlands website.

To read Richland County's proposed plan click here.