South Carolina may consider tolls, privatization for road funding

| 8/6/2008

The leading transportation official in South Carolina says the state no longer can depend on its traditional funding source to pay for road work because of rising prices at the fuel pump.

Buck Limehouse, secretary for the South Carolina Department of Transportation, said the state’s fuel tax cannot be relied on to keep up with the current level of spending. He said the state must consider other options for money, such as tolls, privatization or the state’s general fund, The State newspaper reported.

The state’s per-gallon tax rate on gas and diesel purchases is 16.8 cents. However, fuel tax collections have stagnated.

During the fiscal year that ended June 30, tax collections increased less than 1 percent compared with the previous year. DOT figures show that tax collections from the fuel tax typically increase by 3 percent to 5 percent annually.

For the first six months of 2008, fuel tax revenue dropped – by 1.2 percent – compared with the same time a year ago.

Higher fuel prices and motorists cutting down on miles traveled were cited for the dip.

Limehouse said there are no immediate plans to cut work on roads. Instead, the agency is working to make better use of the money it does have.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Carolina in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor