Charleston County Council approves half-cent sales tax funding for I-526 extension

Charleston County Council approves half-cent sales tax funding for I-526 extension

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - On Tuesday, Charleston County Council voted on using $3,156,640 from the transportation half-cent sales tax to fund the Mark Clark Expressway project for 2019.

Last month, the county approved the new plan that would build an eight-mile stretch between James Island and Johns island, with the county paying for about $305 million for this project.

South Carolina’s Department of Transportation commission had to approve an intergovernmental agreement (IGA, to allow the project to proceed.

In accordance with that IGA, the county needs to adopt a budget for each fiscal year for revenues to fund the payment obligations for the project.

The county would be sending this money to South Carolina’s Department of Transportation to pay for initial costs of the project like engineering, environmental concerns, and buying land. The entire amount for this initial work is estimated to cost around 6 million dollars for this fiscal year.

The state infrastructure bank would be paying for the remaining 3 million.

The half-cent sales tax was a referendum passed by Charleston County voters to would fund road projects, mass transit, and the greenbelt program.

Residents that came to the county meeting say they weren’t told that the money from the half-cent sales tax would be used to fund this I-526 extension.

“We believe that this is a misuse of tax payer dollars, so this is a bait and switch,” said Jason Crowley, the director of Community and Transportation for Coastal Conservation League. “ The public was led to believe that the 2.1 billion dollars would be used on roads."

Despite concerns from people tonight that funding this project would take money away from other projects funded by the sales tax, county officials said this money has been set aside and isn’t pulling away from any projects.

Charleston County Council Chairman Elliot Summey said, “We have almost 100 million dollars, somewhere between 90 and 100 million dollars from the first sales tax referendum, from 2005 that is un-allocated, and all those projects have been completed.”

The vote passed 7-2, with a majority in favor of using the funds. The permitting process for this project already started, but when construction starts it’ll still take about three to four years before it’s completed.

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