Two Midlands counties looking to make a difference with taxpayer dollars
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 01:47:58 GMT —
RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WACH FOX) -Richland County residents have been paying an additional penny on taxed items for more than six months.
So far, not a single cent has been spent on improving roadways or the the county's bus system.
WACH Fox reached out to Richland County Council members for an or an interview about the Penny Tax issue.
Several did not return our calls and other denied our request for an interview.
Director of Public Information, Beverly Harris, says Richland County has received two quarters of revenue this year from the Penny Transportation Program.
During the first year of the tax increase, more than 24 million dollars was received from the State Department of Revenue.
Harris adds that an exact date for construction to begin has yet to be set. She says the date depends on when the Program Development Team gets on board, and the ensuing projects are prioritized and approved by county council.
According to the Penny Tax Fact Sheet, more than one billion dollars will be collected over the next 22 years. That money will be used on projects across Richland County including paving, repairing, and widening roads.
The process for an increased sales tax in Richland County started in 2006, and wasn't always smooth.
Voters shot down the tax hike plan in 2010 before it eventually passed in November of 2012.
This is an issue Lexington County hopes to avoid.
"It's up to us to control our own destiny," said Michael Crapps, Chairman for the Penny for Progress Commission in Lexington County.
Crapps says that a sales tax in Lexington County benefits the county and residents, because it presents an opportunity to fund projects where in the past funds have not been available.
The Penny for Progress sales tax is expected to generate funds between $250 million and $300 plus million over an eight year period.
Ryan Slattery of Alliance Consulting Engineers, Incorporated says projects range from dirt to pave roads to small communities having a need for recreation and municipal improvements.
Slattery tells WACH Fox that by implementing a capital projects sales tax act, the strong desire in the county to improve roads among other things will finally become reality.
The deadline for municipalities to submit projects to county council is February 6th.
"I think it's one of those processes that is pretty wisely put together," added Crapps.
Lexington County voters will have the final say on the penny tax this November.
If the tax is approved by voters, it will go into effect May 1, 2015.
Similar penny tax increases have passed in Sumter and York Counties, and officials say they've seen significant improvements on their roadways.
To learn more about upcoming meetings and submitted projects, log onto http://www.pennyforprogresslex-co.org/.