Two South Carolina counties vote to increase sales tax for roads

| 11/10/2006

Voters in two South Carolina counties Tuesday, Nov. 7, supported penny sales tax increases to help pay for needed roadwork.

Horry County voters, by a margin of 61 to 39 percent, approved Question 1 on the ballot to authorize a 1 cent increase on the dollar in the 5-cent sales tax for seven years for specified projects. More than $425 million will go toward 15 projects that range from widening roads, to paving dirt roads.

The state Infrastructure Bank also will pitch in $150 million for roads.

Supporters said the tax increase is the only realistic way to fund the most pressing local road needs for the short term.

Projects that will be earmarked for funding include building an interchange at the intersection of the U.S. 17 bypass, the completion of the Carolina Bays Parkway. Money also will be provided to pave 100 miles of dirt roads.

In Florence County, 55 percent of voters approved a penny increase to the 6-cent sales tax there.

Projects that are slated to benefit from the $150 million in expected revenue and $250 million match from the state include widening U.S. 76 from Interstate 95 to Timmonsville to four lanes and doing the same along U.S. 378 from Lake City to Kingsburg.

Both counties will begin collecting the taxes in May 2007 with roadwork likely to begin in less than a year, WPDE-TV in Florence reported.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor