Cayce’s embattled tax plan set for showdown

Landscaped medians are part of the new look that Cayce officials want for Knox Abbott Drive.
Landscaped medians are part of the new look that Cayce officials want for Knox Abbott Drive. Provided image

Supporters are seeking a last-minute deal that would allow Cayce to extend a special tax district for two decades despite opposition from some Lexington County Council members.

Finding a settlement agreeable to both sides before a Tuesday showdown is “so elusive,” County Council chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said.

Five of nine county council members oppose a plan they say is a money-loser because the county would have to continue giving up some property tax revenue in the district for another 20 years. “I don’t see a deal as possible,” said Councilman Scotty Whetstone, one of those opposed.

The conflict is over Cayce’s bid to continue the tax district after it is scheduled to expire in October. City officials want to extend the 188-acre district through 2037.

Tax revenue generated by the extension would pay to improve a mile of Knox Abbott Drive and to open a visitor center at 12,000 Year History Park, officials say.

Officials expect the plan to raise $8.7 million during the next 20 years.

Pressure on the county to add deputies, firefighters and ambulance crews as well as repair roads has some leaders skeptical of the extension. Rejection would reduce money for the city’s plans to $4.6 million, which would scale back plans significantly, city officials say.

Allowing Cayce to do what it seeks is “investing in ourselves,” Cullum said.

Critics say Cayce wants too much. County Councilman Ned Tolar of West Columbia said the opposition is not about using a tax district, but “we’re opposed to the way this one is structured.”

A similar plan proposed by Lexington appears to be in little trouble with council members who must sign off on both proposals.

Lexington town officials want to use it to build a road designed to ease congestion at Corley Mill Road, U.S. 378 and I-20, a major traffic bottleneck.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483