Monday, May 5, 2014

Board of Directors Supports Effort to Let Voters Decide on a Penny Sales Tax for Roads

UPDATE May 7, 2014:
County Council gave first reading to an ordinance to place a question on the ballot in November for voters to decide whether to increase the sales tax by one penny in Greenville County to pay for road projects.  President Mike Freeman, GMB, and Government Affairs Chairman Coleman Shouse spoke in support of letting the voters decide.

The vote in Committee of the Whole was 8 to 3, with council members Cates, Dill, and Meadows opposed.   County Council has one vacancy that will not be filled until the first council meeting in July.

A public hearing is planned for June 3.  Two additional readings and votes are required for the ordinance to pass.

The Board of Directors of your Home Builders Association is supporting an effort to allow the voters of Greenville County to decide whether they would like to impose on themselves a special local option sales tax for road improvements and resurfacing, bridge repair and replacement, and pedestrian facilities improvements.

A task force of 20 citizens from around Greenville County, appointed by County Council and called the Greenville Citizen Roads Advisory Commission, studied the county's transportation infrastructure needs over the course of three months beginning in January.  They presented their report to County Council in late March and recommended nearly $700 million in critical funding needs including $300 million for road resurfacing and $40 million for bridge repair and replacement.  The commission held several public meetings throughout the county and received reports from every city, county staff, and the Department of Transportation.  Their report

Based on the current funding stream, it could take decades to complete all of the projects that have been identified, and that assumes that no new needs arise, which is unlikely. 

"The association will generally support a broad-based funding measure to fund critical infrastructure needs that are well-thought out and presented," Michael Dey, Executive Vice President of the Home Builders Association, said.  "In this case, the commission thoroughly researched Greenville County's needs and developed a sound proposal of needed repairs and improvements," Dey said.  "The Board of Directors is supporting giving the voters of Greenville County the opportunity to make the choice, which is the method provided for in state law.  Of course there were lots of other suggestions for paying for our road needs, including and impact fee on construction, or a tax on the transfer of real property.  A broad-based solution will best solve this problem," Dey said.

The first step is for County Council to agree to allow the voters to decide whether they would like to tax themselves.  A poll conducted by the National Association of Realtors, released this week, found that 83 percent of 400 likely voters in Greenville County want to have the chance to vote in a referendum and decide whether they would like to tax themselves to pay for critical transportation needs.  The process starts May 6, when County Council will consider on first reading a referendum to place the question on the ballot in November.

The one-cent sales tax, if approved, would last 8 years and is expected to raise about $680 million.  Note: if voters approve the project list and tax, no governmental body can alter the list of projects funded by the special tax.

To read more on the proposed transportation improvements at, click here.

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