A last push on penny sales tax in Richland County

From Staff ReportsOctober 30, 2012 

— Richland County auditor Paul Brawley joined others Monday in speaking out against the proposed penny sales tax for transportation improvements.

Brawley, who attended a news conference in Columbia that included some small-business owners and other community members, said Monday he quietly worked against the sales tax when it was on the ballot two years ago but is taking a more public stand this time.

“The penny is the wrong way to go,” he said, adding county officials should look at ways to pay for buses from existing revenues, such as keeping the transit fee or taking it out of county meal tax money.

But the tax will get the backing at 11 this morning of another elected county official — Sheriff Leon Lott, who will headline a “Unity Rally” among tax supporters at the Clarion Townhouse, 1615 Gervais St.

A week from today, Richland County voters go to the polls to decide whether to raise the sales tax by a penny-on-the-dollar, to 8 percent, to fund a massive transportation improvement program. Over the 22-year life of the tax, it would raise $1.07 billion for roads, public transit, sidewalks, bike lanes and nature trails.

The proposed sales tax has generated a lot of community conversation over the past couple of months, with active groups for and against the tax.

County officials have attended 36 community meetings with particulars about the sales-tax plan, spokeswoman Stephany Snowden said.

No meetings were scheduled yet for this week, but at 3 p.m. Thursday staff members will broadcast a sales-tax presentation “live” on the county website at www.rcgov.us. For information, call (803) 576-2050.

Contributing: Staff writers Dawn Hinshaw and Tim Flach

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