Penny tax highlights
If approved by voters Nov. 4, the sales tax in Lexington County would increase from 7 cents to 8 cents on the dollar.
• Its revenue would pay for road, water, sewer and drainage improvements as well as new buildings, recreation facilities and sidewalks. The projects will be built in the order listed on the ballot.
• Groceries and prescription medicine are exempt.
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• Collection would start May 1 and last eight years. It could be renewed at another referendum.
• It’s the only way to keep pace with the strains of steady growth, particularly in making roads safer and less congested as well as upgrading other facilities.
• The projects won’t happen for decades without additional taxes. There’s no other way to get them under way soon.
• Some projects in the package – such as trails, civic centers and sports fields – are frills. The tax ought to support road improvements and perhaps some water, sewer and drainage upgrades but nothing more.
• The overall tab for local taxes – mainly county, municipal and schools – already is too much.
By the numbers
How the 24 road projects that the proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax for Lexington County would be divided:
Batesburg-Leesville: 3 totaling $2.2 million
Chapin: 3 totaling $28.8 million
Gilbert: 2 totaling $3.6 million
Irmo: 2 totaling $587,700
Lexington: 3 totaling $10.8 million
Pelion: 1 for $1.6 million
South Congaree: 1 for $1.5 million
Summit: 2 for $1.5 million
Swansea: 1 for $625,100
Six projects – such as paving 35 miles of dirt roads and widening 15 intersections – involve a mix of unincorporated areas and 14 municipalities.
Up to $32.5 million for five additional projects – mostly to pave more dirt roads and improve Knox Abbot Drive in Cayce – could occur if revenue is higher than expected or other projects are canceled.
What it may cost
The proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax would cost the average Lexington County household $158 extra per year, chief state economist Frank Rainwater says.
His estimate – developed at the request of The State newspaper – is based on typical spending on taxable items as measured by federal census and labor studies.
Rainwater’s staff also prepared the estimate that the tax would generate $290 million over eight years.
His estimate on the impact on households is higher than what some tax supporters suggest and less than what some tax foes predict.
Local projects questioned by foes of a proposed penny-on-the-dollar sales tax in Lexington County include:
• $7.4 million for extension of the Three Rivers Greenway along the lower Saluda River
• $2.7 million for a civic center in Gaston
• $2.4 million for a leisure center in Pelion
• $2 million for a baseball complex in Gaston
• $1.5 million for a Town Hall annex along with playground and walking trail improvements in Pelion
• $1.4 million for two paths connecting to the Three Rivers Greenway in West Columbia
• $945,000 for a community center, park and police department renovations in Swansea
• $726,000 for a public works facility in Irmo
• $170,000 for Town Hall improvements in Pine Ridge
In addition, some or all of these projects could happen if revenue from the tax is more than expected:
• $8.8 million for a municipal complex in Springdale
• $6.7 million for a gym and volleyball complex next to the State Farmers Market in the Dixiana area
• $5.5 million for a soccer complex next to the State Farmers Market in the Dixiana area
• $4.4 million for baseball fields in Pine Ridge
• $4 million for a community center in Chapin
• $2 million for Town Hall improvements in South Congaree
• $1.4 million for City Hall renovation in Cayce
• $605,000 for walking trail improvements in Pine Ridge
Note: Projects are not in order that they would be built as listed on the ballot.