GEORGETOWN COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - The Georgetown County Council is considering 20 projects that could be funded through surplus tax funds. County officials say there is a surplus of $10 million that came from a capital project tax.
The Public Information Officer for Georgetown County Government, Jackie Broach, said the county is limited in what the money can used for.
“The law very carefully regulates what those funds can be spent on,” Broach said. “You have a few categories: roads, bridges public facilities, parks and recreation facilities and sewer projects.”
The 20 projects that council county is considering total to $7 million.
“Anybody who’s familiar with construction projects know that they often go over, there are delays, there are contingencies,” Broach said. “It’s just the nature of the work. So we are leaving $3 million of that money unallocated.”
One of the projects being considered is a $1 million emergency vehicle traffic control system that will allow emergency vehicles to control lights at intersections. They can turn lights green as they’re approaching them to help improve emergency response times.
Midway Fire Rescue Chief Doug Eggiman says the system will improve response times on average 30 seconds per intersection they travel through.
“If you’re that person caught in a rip current on the ocean, something that’s crucial, 30 seconds can be literally the difference between life and death,” Eggiman said.
Eggiman says he understand how drivers may feel after getting stopped at red lights with emergency vehicles approaching from behind.
“You look to your left or you look to your right, there’s cars on both sides and it’s kind of like where do I go,” Eggiman said.
He says he’s thankful for the grassroots efforts that began about two years ago from people in the community who advocated for this new system.
“We just think it’s going to make a huge difference,” Eggiman said. “Not only for response time, which also can impact our ISO ratings and stuff like that for insurance premiums, but also just the safety of our people and the citizens out there.”
There are also project proposals that include library improvements along with several park, recreation and pedestrian upgrades. Money is being considered for sewer system improvements and a fire station improvement as well.
You can find a list of all the projects that are being considered here.
In 2014, voters in the county voted in favor of a one cents sales tax for capital projects. The taxes were collected beginning in 2015 and ended in 2019. It was the first time a tax referendum was approved in the county.
Many people in the area say they’d like to see more road improvements.
“We did complete more than 100 roadway projects with these funds in the first round,” Broach said. “The problem with roads here is that we will just never be able to keep up, there will always be more needs for roads and improvements.”
County council will hold a third and final reading of the proposed projects on Feb. 23. County leaders say the projects are expected to take a year and a half to complete.
If there are additional funds, the money will be allocated to other projects.