GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) – A road maintenance fee increase is being considered in Greenville County.
This after the State Supreme Court ruled last year that a $10 increase in road fees and a $14.95 charge for communications were unconstitutional.
“People in this county are quite upset that they didn’t get their money back. They were supposed to get refunded on the illegal fee,” said Joe Dill with Greenville County Council.
Right now, drivers are paying $15 per a vehicle a year for the road maintenance fee. However, an ordinance on the county’s agenda could increase the fee by $10 each year.
“The $15 was on– before legislation came that you couldn’t do it anymore. So, we’re already collecting $15, so the $10 will be $25,” said Ennis Fant, Greenville County Council.
“The $10 road maintenance fee that they Supreme Court ruled that we couldn’t do last year, legislature then enacted, legislation that allows us to do it. So, we’re putting the $10 back on that was taken off a few months ago,” Fant said. “The legislature enacted legislation at the end of the last term that allows the counties to now enact $10 road maintenance fee.”
“So, all the lawsuits can just go away, they can get mad. They can cut cartwheels, they can do whatever they want to do, we’re going to fix roads in Greenville County and we going to live like somebody,” Fant said.
Dill said this doesn’t sit well with some people.
“I think it’s a bad time to even talk about it, the way the economy is up and down right now, and the inflation that’s going on and also people are not happy because that road fee was taken off because of a judge’s actions,” Dill said.
“Number one, they’re concerned about it being collected,” Dill said. “They don’t want to see it collected, and also they’re not happy that they weren’t refunded on the illegal fund that was in place and now they’re also concerned about well, what are you going to do with the money, because the county roads are in pretty good shape,” Dill said. “It’s the state roads that are in bad shape.”
According to the proposed ordinance, the $15 per vehicle fee generates around $8 million a year for the county.
It also said that increasing that fee to $25 per vehicle would generate $14 million a year.
“Right now, we’ve spent $10 million on road paving and we’ve only paved 29 miles of road a year out of 1,900. The $10 won’t even fix it either. The $10 will get us to 42 miles of road out of 1,900, which is still insufficient. So, we’re going to look at possibly looking at a one cent sales tax in 2024 to fix the roads,” Fant said. “$90 million goes a lot further than $10, and if the people will vote for it, we’ll give them the $10 back that we’re getting ready to put on now.”
“They can do it. I’m just saying it’s a bad time. It’s still a bad taste in people’s mouth and also you got to specify what you’re going to do with the money. Just to say you’re going to spend it on county roads doesn’t give the community the right kind of feel about it,” Dill said.
While this decision is not final as of yet, Fant said this could help fix a long-term problem.
“I would rather spend $10 a year to have decent roads to ride on, than $250 to fix my front end because I’m running into potholes every five minutes. You cannot be South Carolina’s largest and most populous county and refuse to invest adequate resources into infrastructure. We have 250,000 people moving here over the next 20 years, it is failed leadership on every level to sit by and to do absolutely nothing with regards to our roads,” Fant said.
Dill is hopeful for a different outcome.
“I hope it will have a lot of dialogue before this thing ever gets on the floor for a vote,” Dill said.
Now, this discussion will go to the finance committee for the next steps.
Fant said once the proposal comes out of the finance committee, they will have two more readings and a public hearing.
Click here to read the proposed ordinance.