Half-cent sales tax referendum passes 2nd reading in Charleston Co. meeting

Half-cent sales tax referendum passes 2nd reading in Charleston Co. meeting

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County is one step closer to seeing a new half-cent sales tax and the wheels moving on several transportation projects.

Council approved the second reading of the half-cent sales tax referendum Wednesday evening, in a special called meeting.

It will now go through a third reading, scheduled for August 9.

Because two council members, Colleen Condon and Henry Darby, were not present at the meeting Wednesday, council agreed to wait to make amendments to the referendum on August 9.

That had many concerned the completion of I-526 will be brought back to the table then.

"I don't want 526," Johns Island resident Byron Saunders said. "I think it's a waste of money. It comes up, it gets killed and then it gets resurrected."

Council chairman Elliott Summey said the completion of the interstate could come up next meeting, but it's not something he wants funded with this sales tax.

"I would like to see a separate question on the ballot," Summey said. "The sales tax needs to be for roads that we can accomplish on our own. 526 is too big for us to accomplish on our own."

Based on the referendum now, the list of projects include:

  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Airport-area road improvements
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Widening Dorchester Road from Michaux Parkway to the county line
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Improvements to the intersection of U.S. Highway 17 and Main Road, and Johns Island mobility
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">An annual allocation for resurfacing, paving, bike and pedestrian facilities and intersection improvements
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Widening the Glenn McConnell Parkway
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">James Island intersection and pedestrian improvements
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Northside Drive re-alignment at Ashley Phosphate Road
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Rural road improvements
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Congestion infrastructure improvements for the Crosstown, Savannah Highway and the Ashley River bridges
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Savannah Highway capacity and intersection improvements
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Improvements to S.C. Highway 41 from U.S. Highway 17 to the Wando Bridge
  • style="margin-left: 40px;">Improvements to U.S. Highway 78

"This is our one shot to get it right," Natalie Olson, with Coastal Conservation League, said. "I think they're moving through the process pretty quickly, but I think there's a huge opportunity there to do some really great transportation projects."

The county has until August 15 to get the referendum to the board of elections and voter registration in order for it to appear on November's ballot.
Before then, it must go through a third reading. That's expected August 9.

Because no changes were made to referendum Wednesday, many left the meeting knowing amendments are coming.

"It's hard to react when you don't know what they're going to vote on," Olson said.

The half-cent sales tax would bring $2.1 billion over 25 years.

Copyright WCSC 2016. All rights reserved.