Lexington County's plan exceeds expected tax revenue

tflach@thestate.comJanuary 27, 2014 

Pilots training on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner practiced an approach at Columbia Metropolitan Airport Wednesday around noon. Portions of the Dreamliners are being built in North Charleston.

TIM DOMINICK — tdominick@thestate.com Buy Photo

Lexington County Council signed off Monday on a $319 million package of projects that is more than the expected amount that would be raised by a proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax.

Those recommendations were submitted to an advisory panel that will cull through a list composed mostly of road improvements in developing the final plan for a Nov. 4 referendum on adoption of the tax.

The package of 60 projects is on top of dozens more from 15 municipalities, some schools and fire and recreation agencies.

Tax revenue can be used for roads, sidewalks, buildings, water and sewer facilities, parks, trails, libraries, parking, drainage and other projects.

Nearly three-fourths of the money in the council plan is earmarked for four major road improvements:

• Adding a new entrance off I-26 for Columbia Metropolitan Airport

• Allowing better access off I-26 to an industrial area near Cayce

• Paving about 100 miles of dirt roads

• Widening the Longs Pond Road commuter corridor off I-20

“It’s laying out all options,” Councilman Bill Banning of West Columbia said. “All of ours aren’t going to be on the list coming out.”

A six-member advisory panel will winnow the suggestions this spring in settling on a package of improvements that would be accomplished with the tax.

Panel members plan to come up with their plan by early June.

The panel “has its work cut out for it,” council chairman Johnny Jeffcoat of Irmo said.

With anti-tax forces already complaining about the proposal, council members warned that the tax is the only way for many long-wanted improvements to be done in the foreseeable future.

“If it’s not done by the Penny for Progress (the sales tax plan), then it’s not going to happen,” Jeffcoat said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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