Charleston County Council passes half-cent sales tax

VIDEO: Charleston County Council passes half-cent sales tax

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Charleston County could soon see higher taxes.

Council passed the third and final reading for a half-cent sales tax on Tuesday to fund transportation projects.

It will now appear on the ballot on November 9, where voters will have the final say.

The only change made to the referendum was an increase of funding allocation for the greenbelt, from $125 million to $210 million.

That money will be used for land protection and conservation.

Council also explored a referendum to put a question on November's ballot asking voter if they want to see I-526 extended onto James and Johns Islands.

The referendum failed.

Some felt that was a big indication that the 526 discussion should die.

Others said more can be done.

"I'm going to continue to fight to make sure the state of South Carolina honors their contract and there's going to have to be someone who stops me from doing that," Charleston County Council chairman Elliott Summey said.

Summey spoke adamantly during the council meeting.

"The state of South Carolina fails this community over and over again," Summey said, banging his fists on the table.

He sought to have the I-526 question put on November's ballot.

"No one really has ever asked the public what they really want," Summey said. "I thought it would be an opportunity. Again, it didn't pass."

Summey was among many disappointed in the failed referendum.

Others were excited about the future of the projects funded by the half-cent sales tax, that passed.

"People feel very passionately about traffic," Coastal Conservation League spokeswoman Natalie Olson said. "They feel very passionate about the proposed solutions."

The tax will generate $2.1 billion over the next 25 years.

The list of projects include:

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

Some left the meeting wishing the list included more.

"I think they missed an opportunity to add 526, just the Johns Island connector," Ed Pendarvis said.

Pendarvis urged council to add a little more to 526, but not extend it fully.

The public comment period heard several opinions including one from city of Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg who hoped the county would support his fight with the state to complete 526.

"We need to keep their feet to the fire," Mayor Tecklenburg said.

Some opposed decisions made by council, others left saying it was a job well done.

"They rose to expectations tonight," said Olson.

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