Lexington County Divided Over Penny Tax

Lexington County, SC (WLTX) - Lexington County voters will have the choice on Tuesday to add an additional penny sales tax that will go towards road projects.

But the idea has split public opinion in the county.

Read the Full Wording of the Lexington Penny Tax

Attorney Rich Bolen is behind the group urging Lexington County residents to vote No on the proposed penny tax next Tuesday.

"This is the fourth time they're raising our sales tax, that I can remember, and each time they say seem to say this time we promise we're going to spend the money right and we're going to fix the roads," Bolen says.

He says county officials have a responsibility to fix driving conditions without putting the burden on taxpayers.

"They're using the dangerous intersections to extort our vote in favor of higher taxes in order for them to fix the dangerous intersections," he says. If they are dangerous, it's their duty to fix them and keep them from being dangerous."

Carpet One owner Clyde Smith has been leading efforts in favor of the tax. He says without help from outside sources, it's up to the county itself to fix their problems.

"Everybody complains about the traffic, but nobody wants to do anything about it. There are no state monies, there are no federal monies available. If we're going to going to do anything, we've got to do it ourselves. We cannot depend upon others," Smith says.

If passed, 91 projects ordered by their priority level would be funded by the penny tax throughout the county. Bolen argues that the list isn't binding if you read the small print.

"If you read the language of the statute or the ordinance, it provides for them a bunch of reasons to change the order and it says or any other reasonable reason," he says. "It allows them to just change and do whatever things they want in whatever order they want."

As former Chamber of Commerce Chairman and a current member of the town's traffic committee, Smith says he understands the wording and many people are mistaken.

"As the priority is done, they have to be taken in order," Smith says. "Money cannot be spent on anything except those projects. No politicians or anybody else can take these monies and use them for what they want."

The tax, which would last until 2023, is expected to bring in nearly $300 million over if passed on Tuesday

The penny tax requires a back-up, if enough money isn't raised. If the tax doesn't raise at least $150 million, property taxes within the county will be raised to make up the difference.

Before you head to the polls, be sure to read the wording of the proposed penny tax. It's nine pages long, so it's best to review it ahead of time so you don't have to spend a lot of time in the booth. Read the Full Penny Tax Proposal


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