SCDOT Releases initial COVID-19 impact projections

SCDOT Releases initial COVID-19 impact projections

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina Department of Transportation has released its initial projections of the financial impact of COVID-19, indicating a decrease in agency revenues based on expected reductions in gas tax and car sales tax receipts.

SCDOT reported the financial forecast at Thursday’s transportation commission meeting. The report says lower traffic volumes and a drop in car sales in the state are expected to result in a $78 million revenue reduction during the period of April through July. This forecast predicts $54 million less in gas tax revenue and a $24 million decrease in vehicle sales taxes through July 2020.

“We expect traffic volumes to continue to climb as the state emerges from the pandemic, and we expect the revenue gap to close over time,” Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said. “Like everyone else trying to forecast the economic impact of this virus, it is unknown whether it will take six months or more than a year for revenues to return to pre-pandemic levels. At this time, we are conservatively planning for a longer recovery period that may last as long as two years with a potential $293 million total impact. We will update that projection as we see what unfolds through this July.”

According to SCDOT, Hall has cut the internal operating budget of SCDOT by 11% for the remainder of this state fiscal year to meet the lower revenue forecasts and to ensure that all other mission-critical operations continue as planned.

“We are confident that the planning and preparation we have done will allow us to manage through this with no disruption to our core priorities including the road and bridge projects currently under construction,” Hall said. “We will closely monitor the situation over the next several months and plan to continue to advance our road and bridge program aligned to the revenue stream.”

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