Lexington County towns seek road repairs and more from proposed tax

tflach@thestate.comDecember 15, 2013 

Lexington town leaders have been looking at slowing down traffic to make its downtown more of a shopper's mecca and less of a pass-through for commuters.

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— Lexington County municipalities are seeking road improvements and much more from a proposed sales tax.

The proposals taking shape in six of the 15 municipalities are the first glimpse at some being developed for a referendum on the tax hike of a penny-on-the-dollar in November.

Many road improvements wanted in Batesburg-Leesville and Lexington include widening busy intersections, adding turn lanes and installing sidewalks on local thoroughfares.

Cayce is focusing on ending drainage problems in neighborhoods while West Columbia wants to replace older lines supplying drinking water.

There’s also interest in new buildings, with Irmo seeking a facility for its public-works staff; Pelion wants a Town Hall.

Some projects are modest, such as Pelion’s goal of enhancing its playground and extending a walking trail.

Most of the proposals don’t include price tags so far, with work under way to determine those.

County officials and regional agencies are developing their proposals.

Interest is strong among business and community groups in including a new gateway intersection on I-26 for Columbia Metropolitan Airport and adding new sections of the Three Rivers Greenway along the lower Saluda River.

Rural areas want more dirt roads paved.

The wish lists are taking shape despite predictions it will be difficult for the tax to win approval.

“You always take advantage of something like this,” West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens said.

Some towns are putting in bids even though their leaders are ambivalent about the tax.

“I’m not in favor of more taxes,” Mayor-elect Michael Bishop of Springdale said. “But it if goes through, we need to be prepared to get our part.”

County leaders expect up to 300 projects will be submitted to a six-member advisory panel by Jan. 30.

Panel members will winnow the projects in settling on a package supported by the tax that will be submitted to voters for acceptance.

Some panel members want all areas of the county to benefit. “I will vote for every portion of the county to have something,” Sammy Hendrix of Lexington said.

Money from the tax can be used on roads, sidewalks, buildings, water and sewer facilities, parks, trails, libraries, parking, drainage and other improvements.

Some municipal leaders say the panel ought to focus on major projects instead local ideas.

“If they fill the list with that kind of minor stuff, it won’t pass,” Mayor Hardy King of Irmo said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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