SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. — Sumter County residents can expect to see a penny sales tax on their ballots in November. This one cent sales tax would go toward various projects like new sidewalks, roads and upgrades to Emergency Medical Services.
"We wanted to make sure it was a Sumter County focus, not one particular area of the county focus," Chris Hardy with the Chamber of Commerce explained.
Hardy says this is the third time the penny sales tax, dubbed "Penny for Progress," has been proposed in the past 14 years. Projects will address different needs for citizens all around the county.
"Particularly rural citizens who’ve struggled for a long time with road infrastructure," said County Councilmember Carlton Washington. "So there’s a big chunk of the project funds being used to address the road system."
Sumter resident Roland Robinson says when he first heard about the upcoming penny sales tax vote, he wasn’t sure about it. Then he found out about the emphasis on rural areas.
"I don’t mind paying taxes if we’re getting something out of it," he shared. "This penny sales tax is addressing the rural areas more than it has in the past, so we’re excited about that."
If the referendum passes in November, Hardy says residents will not be seeing any increase in what they’re already paying on taxed items.
"It’s not an additional tax, it’s a renewal of that one cent sales tax that just goes to quality of life services and makes Sumter a better place to live and do business," he shared.
In addition to sidewalk and road repaving, money will go toward fire trucks, park improvements, community centers and other infrastructure. If it passes, the county will have seven years to complete the projects, which are projected to cost a little over $107 million.
"The projects list has already been voted on by the county council as well as they got feedback from community residents from all over the county," Hardy explained. "[All the projects on the list] all have to be done, so once it’s on the list, one is no more priority than the others."
The projects were determined through various focus groups, according to Hardy. Group members brainstormed potential projects, which were then voted on and approved.
Washington said these projects would help residents and residents alike as Sumter expands.
"There are a number of capital projects that the county needs to invest in to accommodate the growth we’re experiencing," he said. "The distance between Columbia and Sumter is getting smaller and smaller and in order to accommodate the desire for folks to live and travel to Sumter, our road system has to be in excellent shape."
"It’s progressing Sumter to put us in a position to where we’re going to be a prime area to relocate and to move and for people to call Sumter home," Hardy said.