SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – Spartanburg County voters approved a new penny sales tax last night which officials said will bring in an estimated $478 million over the next six years.
“Last night’s vote was a pivotal vote in the history of Spartanburg,” said David Britt, Spartanburg County Council.
The total sales tax will remain 7 cents through 2030, taking effect next spring when the current penny tax expires. County leaders pushed for the referendum to pass, saying if it didn’t, Spartanburg roads would turn from bad to irreparable.
“We were in basically terminal shape, the roads were failing,” said Britt. “The last thing in the world the seven council members wanted to do was try to find a funding source. Number one, we definitely were not going to raise property taxes. I’ve been on council for 33 years, I have never voted for a property tax and we have never since I’ve been elected had an increase in property taxes.”
While many voters still disagreed on how to fix the roads, what almost everyone could agree on was the poor condition the roads are in.
“One thing is very important is that we have a lot of new people moving to this area,” said Rick Beltram, a Spartanburg County voter. “As you know, this is a boomtown in the Upstate of South Carolina and that’s certainly something that people will look at when they think about moving here if the infrastructure is in place.”
There’s no timeline for how long each project will take once crews begin working in the spring. The roads listed to be fixed are graded by how old and dangerous they are currently, and that will determine the order in which they’ll be fixed.
County officials said DOT told them the roads are in poor condition, so officials turned to voters for a solution. They’re promising for all of the work to be finished in six years.
“There have been some questions asked like why couldn’t you get these roads paved before,” said Britt. “When you’re throwing $5 to $7 million or $10 million a year to a road repaving budget, you can’t get big contractors interested but all of a sudden when you have $478 million, I mean we’ve been approached prior to the vote last night by big companies ready to work with us.”
County officials said $163-$186 million would come from visitors over the course of the six years.