An advisory panel will develop a preliminary package of improvements that a new sales tax in Lexington County would finance.
County leaders and municipal officials agreed to that Thursday as a first step in coming up with a plan for projects that would be submitted to voters for acceptance as soon as 2014.
Its worth exploring this idea, Springdale Mayor Pat Smith said of an extra penny on the dollar.
The advisory panel is likely to be more than 50 members with mayors, school superintendents, other local officials and business and civic leaders.
Its ideas expected to take months to develop would be presented to a six-member panel that would settle on any package put on the ballot.
Some business leaders say the panel also can gauge community sentiment for the proposed tax.
The business community will be interested in if it provides safer roads, better quality of life and economic development, said Tiffany Boyce, president of the Greater Irmo Chamber of Commerce.
Creation of the advisory panel came after county leaders said the tax is the only way to pay for the demands of growth.
More than $500 million in road improvements to reduce congestion are pending without any way to pay for them, county leaders said.
Were got to take care of ourselves, County Council chairman Bill Banning of West Columbia told the group of 100 officials gathered at the State Farmers Market.
Some municipal leaders warned improvements cant focus solely on high-growth areas.
Theres going to be a good bit of skepticism in rural areas, Pelion Mayor Charles Haggard said. Were going to have to prove were going to do something for them.
The tax is estimated to generate $35 million a year.
It would be in place initially for eight years and could be renewed every seven years subsequently. Unlike the current school sales tax, it appears it would apply to groceries, county officials said.
Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.