RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Richland Countys penny-sales tax referendum has passed.
Vote counts that extended into Wednesday night showed the heavily debated tax was approved by a 9,345-vote margin.
Supporters and opponents alike spent the day waiting ... and waiting ... for the final tally.
It was announced by county election officials shortly before 7 p.m. By that time, chamber executive Ike McLeese had called pro-penny campaign manager Heyward Bannister a half-dozen times or more, hoping for a definitive end to the campaign for a $1 billion in transportation projects.
Absentee ballots were the big unknown, McLeese said.
Pro-penny consultant Adam Fogle arrived at the county administration building shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday and stayed until the bitter end.
He spent the day hanging out, getting numbers, getting people updated, he said.
We actually had a nice family atmosphere. We had about six people here all day, and various people coming and going.
Supporters said passing the tax an increase to 8-cents on the dollar, starting May 1 was crucial to improving the countys transportation network.
Opponents said it was a money grab.
Throughout the day Wednesday, taxpayer advocate Don Weaver took calls from voters wondering about the final outcome.
I felt like wed lost, Weaver said.
But he couldnt be sure.
The answer came a full day after the polls closed.
Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.