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Former Councilman resigns from Chairman position tied to Penny Tax Program

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COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) -- Former Columbia City Councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman resigned from his position as Chairman of the Central Midlands Transit Authority on Monday.

Earlier this month, Newman was charged with failing to pay his state incomes taxes. He pleaded guilty and paid roughly ten thousand dollars in back taxes and legal fees. Newman's attorneys say revenue officials found the issue when they looked into the finances of top officials tied to the penny program. The state Supreme Court has also suspended his law license indefinitely.

Meanwhile, a citizens oversight group is calling for an audit of the billion dollar penny tax program.

The Transportation Penny Advisory Committee (TPAC) met Monday, and much of the focus was shifted towards re-gaining the public's trust.

"We need to make sure the right changes and protocols are put in place," said Richland County Councilman Seth Rose.

Rose presented part of his series of proposals Monday that he says will ensure more oversight in the Richland County penny tax program.

"I certainly wanna make sure this is done as timely as possible, because the program is operating, and we need to put trust back in the program," said Rose.

The TPAC approved to request an outside audit of the penny tax program Monday evening, but the details of the measure still need to be worked out. Rose and Councilman Norman Jackson both presented separate proposals Monday night.

"Everyone agrees there needs to be oversight, but the Devil's in the details. We need to have the specifics, and I venture to actually do research and put in specifics on how to accomplish the goal of having more oversight," said Rose.

"I like both of their proposals," said Carol Kososki. She and other members of the committee were on board with Rose and Jackson, saying it is the TPAC's responsibility to restore trust to the public and show that the program is working. "We need to be there, and we need to be watching what is going on with this very, very good program that the public must know about."

The TPAC will meet again February 12th to review the two proposals outlining the possible audit. The group is expected to go ahead with the details of their recommendations and have a transparency plan in place in the next two or three weeks.

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