Anderson Co. residents voice concerns with proposed road fee

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ANDERSON CO., S.C. (WSPA) – Before Anderson County Council votes on a proposed $25 annual road fee members are hearing from residents at town hall gatherings and public hearings.

Tuesday evening at the Piercetown Fire Department in the Williamston area members of County Council led a discussion on the proposed road fee where roughly two dozen people attended.

The public was encouraged to attend with any questions.

Several residents said an extra $25 a year for one car may sound possible but there was a lot of talk about small business owners who have multiple vehicles and how the fees could start adding up for them.

County administrator Rusty Burns was in attendance answering some of the questions.

“What we’re trying to do is to find a stable source of revenue,” said Burns.

Burns said the added money could come from a proposed $25 road fee paid annually for every licensed motor vehicle owned by residents in the county.

“Roads in Anderson County need a great deal of work,” Burns added.

That same sentiment was shared by some at the town hall including Dana Leavitt who owns a recreational farm in the Pendleton area of the county.

“I think it’s needed not only statewide but nationally and I’m proud to pay my part,” Leavitt said.

He also applauded council for giving the idea what he called some good thought but he said he wants them to consider the impact a road fee would have on small business owners who keep a fleet of vehicles.

“I end up paying $120 versus somebody else paying $30.” He continued, “Unless they considered putting a cap on how much a particular licensed driver would have to pay on their number of vehicles.”

Burns said a cap is being mulled by council members but the idea hasn’t been narrowed down to anything specific.

Another resident asked, “we know how many vehicles would be exempt?”

Exemptions are being strongly considered, for example residents 64 years of age and older and anyone with a handicapped placard would not have to pay the fee.

Burns said if the fee is approved it would generate about $4.5 million dollars annually and by law the money would have to go toward road repairs and maintenance and could not be used for other county services and needs.

“With a fee it can only go for this item or for that service,” he explained.

“This money’s not going to fix Interstate 85. That’s state or even South Carolina highways. This is going to fix the road in front of your house,” he said.

Burns also explained how council would like to pass it in a way that allows for the slight reduction in how much residents pay in regular property taxes through their millage rate.

Council is also considering a sunset rule. That mean they would have to vote to renew the fee every two to four years.

More town halls and public hearings are being scheduled in the weeks ahead but specific dates, times, and locations are still being planned.

The road fee ordinance would require three readings in front of council before a final vote is taken. The chairman said he’d like a final vote to happen by mid-September.

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