Capital Project Sales Tax Respond to Early Ballots, Residents and Business Owners

LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) — Lexington County has a one percent sales tax hike, or penny tax, available to voters that will be used to fund a list of county road improvement projects.

The top priority on the list of projects, and the most expensive of all projects, will be the widening of Longs Pond Road from two to five lanes.

The project will cost the county $64 million, but the big question is how the tax increase will affect taxpayers.

The Lexington County Administrator says it will be different for every taxpayer. It depends on a person’s spending habits. WIS also spoke to some local people and business owners. Some residents seem to have mixed opinions and some confusion about the tax. Some say it’s necessary to fix some major traffic problems, and others say they fear it will be a waste of their money.

If voted on, the 1% sales tax on capital projects will go into effect in May 2023 and will fund more than 100 different road improvement projects. A committee was selected to compile a list of roads, bridges and intersections that need improvement due to increased traffic.

Cathy Mathias, a Lexington County resident, says she wouldn’t oppose a sales tax hike.

“Since they built the school out there, it’s very important that they do something about the traffic,” said Cathy Mathias.

“We definitely need to improve the roads and that’s a decent way to pay for it,” she said.

But another resident tells WIS she fears the projects will take years to get started.

“I mean, I think they can get help from somewhere else. We’re already working harder as everything is going up,” said Rebecca Mullinkin, another resident.

And there are also mixed opinions from local business owners like Cassie Wing of Wretched Collections.

“They’ve hit the penny tax before and the roads are still terrible. It just seems like nothing is being done here,” Cassie Wing said.

“We need it and it’s hard to say no to everything. But it’s hard to get excited about because I haven’t seen enough of the details,” said Matt O’Hara, co-owner of O’Hara’s Public House and Bakery Cafe.

“It’s a 1 percent sales tax, and there’s a whole bunch of things that it applies to or is exempt from,” said Lynn Sturkie, Lexington County board of directors.

The tax doesn’t apply to groceries, prescriptions and gas, but County Administrator Lynn Sturkie says it will raise $535 million, and not just on Lexington County’s roads. Sturkie says he brought a list of funding options to the attention of the county council, and the capital sales tax project has been the most beneficial for residents.

“You said you should honor the timeout, every option you brought to us only impacts Lexington County citizens. If we were to look at a transportation tax or a capital sales tax, we know that a certain percentage would not be collected by any county resident,” Sturkie said.

If approved by Lexington County voters, the eight-year tax will begin May 1, 2023 and end April 30, 2031. It’s unclear when road work will begin, but money for these projects will be disbursed in October 2023 .

Lexington County officials have created a master plan for taxing capital sale projects. The Lexington Chamber and Visitors Center will also host a sales tax press conference on November 1 at 9:00 am at Block 2500 of Two Notch Road, where it intersects with Long Ponds Road.

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