State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is joining the fight against a sales tax increase for roads and other improvements in Lexington County.
Loftis is urging defeat of the penny-on-the-dollar proposal at the polls Tuesday, spreading his view on social media.
The plan lacks sufficient “safeguards to insure the penny tax projects will be completed on time, on budget and on target,” he said in a statement.
Loftis is the only one of three state leaders from Lexington County to oppose the tax openly.
Gov. Nikki Haley and Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom are weighing in on the ballot measure differently.
Haley “has repeatedly been on record opposing local tax increases but strongly believes in the citizens closest to the issues having the right to vote on the things that directly effect their wallets,” spokesman Doug Mayer said.
Eckstrom is taking no position publicly.
Loftis’ decision cheered anti-tax forces.
“It’s a tremendous plus,” said R.J. Shealy, consultant for Citizens Against the Tax Increase. “His financial acumen carries a lot of weight.”
Leaders of the pro-tax effort shrugged off Loftis’ intervention.
Haley’s view is “the appropriate position,” since the referendum is a local decision on repairing roads and other improvements needed to keep pace with steady growth, said Earl McLeod, co-chair of the Lexington Penny for Pavement campaign.
The new tax would pay for at least $268.1 million in improvements for roads, water, sewer, drainage and other projects.
Supporters say it is the only way to pay for long-wanted improvements to reduce congestion and improve safety on roads as steady growth continues.
Opponents mainly question inclusion of a handful of other projects – walking paths, sports fields, civic centers and parks – for communities where traffic isn’t a problem but facilities for families are lacking.
The increase to 8 cents on the dollar from 7 cents would last eight years, with groceries and prescription medicine exempt.