As we draw closer to election day and the looming sales tax referendum vote, many people have asked me if Greenville County should commit themselves to a $670 million sales tax increase over the next 8 years to fund road and bridge repair.
First, I would never tell a person how to vote on a tax referendum, but I will share some random thoughts:
1. We would not be facing this referendum if the General Assembly had addressed the infrastructure repair problem years ago when SCDOT warned them.
2. We are voting for a $673 million dollar sales tax increase on ourselves that we will pay over an 8 year period. That comes out to about $1,200 per person after reducing the amount by the estimated tax paid by outsiders.
3. We have a good idea of where the money will be spent – something not always clear with projects defined in Columbia.
4. If the General Assembly happens to significantly increase funding for roads, then we may lose out on some of that new funding if we have already completed projects that were on SCDOT’s priority list – but only if the projects are non-federal aid. That’s a lot of confusing “ifs.”
5. Greenville County confused the issue by not understanding how the sales tax on food was written in the state code of laws. Legislators are promising that the General Assembly will fix that if the referendum passes. It should be fixable, but it is a roll of the dice.
6. The success of Greenville County is not a mistake. It has taken years of planning and hard work by multiple generations of citizens. Regardless of where you think the money should come from, the fact remains that our roads are in bad repair. Can we afford to wait on the State to clean up its act? If we wait, will the delay cause unforeseen damage to our economy in the next decade?
Ultimately, we have two bad choices. You decide which choice further perpetuates problems or provides solutions.