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Dorchester County voters could see penny tax on ballot this fall


Dollar bills in the potholes on road

Photo: Getty Images

ST. GEORGE, S.C. (WCSC) - Dorchester County residents are likely to decide in November whether to vote for a penny tax, but a yes vote will not mean they will pay any extra money in taxes.

Dorchester County residents have paid a one-cent sales tax since 2005. That extra penny from every dollar funds road work. Council Chairman Bill Hearn says the penny tax has created millions of dollars for major projects.

“Some of the projects people would remember would be Dorchester Road and Highway 78, which is still in process. The Berlin Meyers phase three, which was at the top of the priority list, people will remember that has been recently been approved. And we’ll get started here very soon,” Hearn says.

But that penny tax program is set to expire. So Dorchester County voters will decide in November whether to essentially replace that the expiring funding source with a new one.

“It will end in April of 2024, and this penny will take the place of the existing penny in May of 2024,” Hearn says. “So if it passes in the November referendum, it will replace the old penny with a new penny with a new set of projects.”

Hearn says the sales tax brought in about $7 million in its first year in 2005, and that total has since more than tripled.

“Which is great news, except for the fact that the county is running up against the statutory cap, meaning the Department of Revenue caps our ability to collect money and do projects,” Hearns says.

If it passes, the one-cent sales tax will be in place for 15 years, starting in early 2024.

“We need this new penny and that gives us the ability to do a new set of projects. We’re literally limited,” Hearn says. “Going forward, people probably wonder why we haven’t finished Highway 78 Or why we haven’t worked on Maple Street extension or why we haven’t done Orangeburg Road. It’s because we are limited under the old penny the replacement penny will enable us to do those projects.”.

Council members will revisit the plan twice at future council meetings and plan to post the information on the county website before people see it on election day.

The current total program estimate is about $1.5 billion dollars over 15 years. The plan also includes funding for dirt road improvements, an Eagle Chandler Multi-Use Path, pathways, bike trails and the Greenbelt.

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