Charleston County Council votes to use half cent sales tax funds for I-526 completion permitting process

Published: Sep. 21, 2016 at 4:04 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 21, 2016 at 4:05 AM EDT
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Charleston County Council voted in favor of using up to a half a million dollars from the half cents sales tax fund to go towards completing the permitting process for the completion of I-526.

Last week, the County finance committee voted to approve this amount of money for the permits.

This comes after the State Infrastructure Bank decided to take back $420 million it set aside for the project because the county couldn't come up with a way to raise the remaining $300 million to pay for it.

In Tuesday night's meeting, there was a debate among community members and council members on the I-526 Completion Project.  Some people feel like it's impacting the advancement of other projects while other want to see the project completed.

Charleston County resident Tori Fields says he hopes to see a decision made soon.

"I hope today is a vote of confidence going forward," Fields said.

Charleston County resident Rich Thomas lives in John's Island and he has a different view. He believes the money could go to various projects to improve the region.

"I'm against it, I don't think the road  would provide any benefits to match the cost," Thomas said.

Chairman of the Charleston County Council Elliott Summey says he is taking steps to get the money back from the State Infrastructure Board.

"So we allocated $500,000 tonight for DOT to finish the permitting process which is about 95 percent all the way done, that will hopefully establish with the SIB that we are serious about this project and we look forward to having a meeting with them soon," Summey said.

Since the board decided to take away the $420 million dollars of funding they allocated for the completion of I-526, the county and city has been working together to come up with a plan to fund the rest of the costs for the $720 million project.

"The 526 issue has prevented any other motion and movement on improving roads on Johns Island in particular for the last 10 to 15 years it keeps going on an on and on," Thomas said.

Tori says no matter what the decision he hopes it's made soon.

"We can't keep on having people move here we can't keep on building stores we can't keep on building things and don't build roads, don't build what we need for infrastructure so we have to get it done," Fields said.

There's also frustration among some council members on the amount of time I-526 has consumed during meetings.

"It's not going away, it takes three parties to walk away from a contract and two of the three don't want to walk away," Summey said.

The State Infrastructure Board says it is  planning to meet with the Charleston County Council within the next two weeks to discuss if it will give back the $420 million for the project.

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