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Sales tax: Panel stays vague on road paving

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Members of the county’s Capital Project Sales Tax Commission decided the November ballot question will not contain a list of roads that would be resurfaced with $8.7 million collected from an additional one-cent sales tax over four years.

Members agreed to leave the decision about the roads to local government officials working in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation after looking over lists of roads needing repair. The list included a 12-mile segment of Choppee Road that would cost $4 million to resurface, almost half the money available. The city of Georgetown sent the committee a $5 million wish list of road resurfacing projects.

Committee chairman George Geer III said the road issue was frustrating. “I don’t think this group wants to prioritize roads,” he said.

At the suggestion of Thomas Alford of Andrews, commission members agreed to move a $1.5 million Andrews police and fire station ahead of new county fire stations in the priority list. Alford said Andrews had new trucks in buildings that were leaking.

Geer said the logic was sound, and other members had no objection to reordering the $24 million priority list to include: Winyah Bay dredging, $6 million; Murrells Inlet dredging and disposal site preparation, $10.3 million; Andrews fire-police complex, $1.5 million; county fire stations, $1.5 million; and road resurfacing, $8.7 million.

Geer said the committee should strive for an order “most attractive to voters.” Committee member Bill Hills said he wasn’t interested in making anything attractive to voters but wanted “the best priority use of tax money.” Alford said the most attractive thing, in his opinion, was that the tax had an end date: four years.

Any priority list would be a moot point if County Council members want to borrow the money and get all the work started as soon as possible. Commission members have approved language in the referendum that would give the county the option of borrowing.

The committee will meet for the final time to sign off on the referendum language today at 6 p.m.in the county administration building in Georgetown.

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