Greenville Co. Could Take Next Steps Toward Sales Tax for Road F -

Greenville Co. Could Take Next Steps Toward Sales Tax for Road Fixes

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Leaders in Greenville County are gearing up for a big decision about fixing your bumpy ride.

At a special meeting Monday night, Greenville County Council will vote whether to take the next steps toward a proposed Nov. 14 ballot question that adds a local penny sales tax to cover state road work.

With sky-high rims and Clemson colors splashed across his car, Dylan Allen is a guy who cares about his ride. He said Greenville County’s busted roads are busting his car.

“I hit a pothole. It bent my rim. And one of them busted my tire, so I had to replace my tire,” said Allen.

There are two resolutions on the table at Monday night’s meeting.

The first is more limited. It would authorize council to pick six people for a commission to figure out which projects would be included.

“Their job is to go out over several months to all corners of the county and cities and meet with citizens and try to determine where the worst problems are,” said Greenville County Council member Butch Kirven, who’s spearheading the proposal.

The list would be limited to road projects and the tax would stay in place no more than eight years.

The second option is broader and more flexible. The commission would be as large as council chooses. Projects on the ballot would not be limited to roads. They could include projects like sidewalks and bike paths too. Under this resolution, the tax could go as long as 25 years.

In both options, no elected official would be allowed to be a commission member.

Kirven said that helps cut out special interests.

“It takes politics out of it,” said Kirven.

But council member Joe Dill, who opposes using county money for state roads, said no elected officials on the commission means no accountability.

“People that are elected have to answer to the people, where people that are appointed to a committee – they only answer to the people that appointed them,” said Dill.

There is one more possibility Monday night: council votes down both resolutions, making the referendum essentially dead in the water for 2014.

“Any chance that it would be put to the hands of the voters would be lost,” said Kirven.

Even if county leaders approve the commission Monday, they could still nix the sales tax idea before it makes it to the ballot next year.

If you live in Greenville County, you're already paying a $15 road maintenance fee. But that money only goes toward fixing local roads. The $65 million a year the county estimates would come from the proposed penny sales tax would go toward both state and local roads.

Similar referendums have succeeded in more than a dozen South Carolina counties. But it has failed in several counties as well, including Anderson County in 2008.

If the referendum makes it onto the Greenville county ballot, it will be the first in the Upstate to do so.


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