Published Nov. 4, 2012
On Nov. 6, Richland County’s ballot includes a question about the future. Are residents willing to tax themselves for the next 22 years to pay for road construction, bus service and miles of sidewalks, bike lanes and trails? Or is tomorrow too uncertain to take on additional expense? We’ve put together some of the most prevalent arguments being debated about the proposal, which would raise the sales tax to 8 cents on the dollar to generate $1 billion.
Published Oct. 29, 2012
Richland County auditor Paul Brawley joined others Monday in speaking out against the proposed penny sales tax for transportation improvements.
Published Oct. 28, 2012
With just days before the election, Richland County voters decide if there’s a crisis in the local transportation network, endorsing a penny tax or rejecting it as a money grab. Leaders in both camps say the vote will be close.
Published Oct. 25, 2012
The audience cheered each new speaker who took the microphone at a pro-penny rally Wednesday in a public show of support for the beleaguered bus system and its most vulnerable riders.
Published Oct. 23, 2012
The issue of trust – whether Richland County Council members would spend $1 billion in new transportation money as they’ve promised – was a central issue Monday night at a debate on the penny sales-tax referendum.
Published Oct. 22, 2012
A penny sales-tax referendum could help neighborhood improvements, dirt roads and road resurfacing. But the county has identified more projects than money, so voters can’t be sure which projects will be done.
What Columbia gets from the penny sales tax
Published Oct. 21, 2012
A massive undertaking to relocate railroad tracks and build two bridges over Assembly Street is among long-sought road projects that could be done in Columbia if voters approve a penny sales tax for transportation. City residents also stand to receive nearly 70 percent of the pedestrian-level improvements in Richland County’s tax proposal, which comes before voters Nov. 6.
Published Oct. 15, 2012
“Malfunction Junction” and areas around Broad River Road would see big traffic improvements if the penny sales tax is passed by Richland County voters.
Published Oct. 14, 2012
The new director of the Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority, Bob Schneider, would be the man reconfiguring the bus system if voters approve a penny sales tax for transportation Nov. 6. Key members of his board of directors say they have confidence in him to modernize Columbia’s beleaguered bus system. Still, Schneider is fielding criticism for a lack of details on which services he intends to provide with $13.7 million a year from the sales tax, if it passes.
Published Oct. 10, 2012
Passage of a penny sales tax for transportation in Richland County would create more than 16,500 jobs in construction and new industry, said a local economist who released his analysis Oct. 10.
Published Oct. 8, 2012
Preliminary work is under way on widening a six-mile stretch of Hard Scrabble Road to five lanes from two. Whether the entire project is completed, or half of it, would be decided by the penny sales-tax vote.
Published Oct. 7, 2012
A proposed penny sales tax promises to finish 5½ miles of walkways along Richland County’s riverfront, also pushing into neighborhoods along tributaries to add a total of 31 miles of nature trails.
Published Oct. 1, 2012
Boosters say extending Shop Road into landlocked acreage south of town would lay the groundwork for new industry and relieve traffic now forced onto Garners Ferry Road.
Published Sept. 30, 2012
In the two years since Richland County voters defeated a penny sales tax to improve transportation, few improvements have been made to county roads, sidewalks, bike lanes or buses. County leaders say that if voters don’t step up to solve a looming crisis in the county’s transportation system, no one will do it for them.
Published Sept. 27, 2012
Details on bus improvements that would be done with proceeds from a new sales tax in Richland County won’t be available until after the public votes. That’s the expectation of bus-system director Bob Schneider. He said he can’t set out more specific plans before the referendum because he doesn’t have a planner on staff.
Published Sept. 25, 2012
A pro-bus crowd grilled transit officials on service to southeast Columbia at a transportation sales-tax forum Monday night.
Published Sept. 20, 2012
Municipal officials attending a transportation sales-tax presentation Thursday said voters need to focus on a second ballot question, too. That question asks permission for Richland County to borrow up to $450 million that would be repaid with proceeds from the sales tax. Doing that would allow the county to jump-start a $1 billion project list for road improvements, bus service, new sidewalks, bike lanes and greenways, county officials say.
Published Sept. 20, 2012
Mayor Steve Benjamin took command of a community forum on the penny sales tax Wednesday, telling skeptics that they wield power at the polls if public officials don’t make good on their promises.
Published Sept. 19, 2012
About 80 supporters of a local sales tax to improve transportation in Richland County gathered to launch a “vote yes” campaign Wednesday morning. The group — which included chamber officials and local political leaders — touted “more jobs, safer roads, local control” as selling points.
Published Sept. 18, 2012
Richland County is looking to set up a 15-member citizen group to monitor progress on transportation improvement projects, should voters approve a penny sales tax in November.
Published Sept. 17, 2012
A group of Richland County business leaders and concerned citizens join to formally launch a campaign in support of a sales-tax for transportation.
Published Sept. 17, 2012
As early as Sept. 19, the Regional Transit Authority will produce a list of specific plans for revenues from a proposed penny sales tax. RTA director Bob Schneider said he is preparing a list to distribute to community groups that will specify where new bus stops and shelters would be located and commit to paper improvements such as the purchase of small buses, expanded hours, park and ride sites, and the restoration of Sunday service.
Published Sept. 11, 2012
Foes of a proposed transportation sales tax tried to poke holes in the plan outlined by Richland County officials at the first forum Monday explaining how it would be used. Opponents complained that problems with the tax increase of a penny on the dollar were glossed over during the session at the county recreation center in Dentsville attended by 75 residents.
Published Sept. 5
Richland County has scheduled the first round of community meetings to explain details of a proposed penny sales tax for transportation. (Sept. 10-24)
Published Aug. 1, 2012
Richland County will spend up to $50,000 to inform voters about projects that would be funded by the proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax for transportation. On July 31, the council gave a final vote of approval on the allocation, reversing course from two years ago, when members declined to pay for voter materials.
Published July 19, 2012
Richland County is again calling a November referendum to address $1 billion in transportation needs after voters barely rejected the penny-on-the-dollar sales tax increase two years ago. What’s different this time, boosters say, is a funding crisis for public transit. And Wednesday, in deciding the ballot’s wording, the council boosted the proportion that would go both for buses and for pedestrian amenities.
Published July 9, 2012
Consultants suggest it would cost $31 million to administer the proceeds from a sales tax collected for 20 years. That’s about 3 percent of the total proceeds — which is standard, said David Beaty, regional manager of Florence & Hutcheson in Columbia, one of a handful of transportation-focused engineering firms in SC likely to compete for the job.
In Columbia, plenty for roads, little for buses?
Published July 5, 2012
Money from a proposed sales tax would create a “rockin’” bus system, even with a smaller cut of the revenues, the director of local bus service said.
Published: July 1, 2012
ANYONE WHO expected Richland County Council to adopt a more acceptable plan for a transportation sales tax that would meet the critical funding needs of the public bus system and pass muster with voters the second time around was disappointed.
Published June 12, 2012
Richland County voters would be asked this fall to approve a 20-year, one-penny sales tax increase that would raise nearly $1 billion to improve the bus system, upgrade roads and extend pedestrian and bicycle pathways if a committee gets its way.