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uscgop2003

Richland County Transportation Sales Tax

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Richland County Council is currently considering putting a referendum on the November ballot for an eight year transportation sales tax. Based on the recommendations of a citizens study commission, revenues from this tax would be used for the following:

- $303 million for road projects (widenings, intersection improvements, dirt road paving, resurfacing, etc.)

- $126 million to maintain and expand transit service within the county

- $75 million for greenways, bike lanes, and sidewalks

How do you feel about the 1) the sales tax 2) the distribution of revenues and 3) the list of projects? (available at www.rcgov.us)

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I'm in favor of the tax, as long as food and clothing are exempt, though I'd prefer a little less for road projects and more for transit service and for greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks. I would very much like to see us begin moving towards commuter rail service and an LRT because a long-range plan for mass transit is needed now. The MSA will be approaching 1 million before we know it and we need to plan for the future now, especially with skyrocketing gas prices.

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Wow, so I assume you're talking about this document that contains the lists?

Thats an impressive list of projects. I have a lot of comments and questions about it, but its late, so I'll have to get to them tomorrow. I'll say that I'm always in favor of a tax that has a direct purpose like this. It reminds me a bit of York County's "Pennies for Progress" process. you can very clearly see what your money is going for.

Welcome to the forum!

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uscgop2003

Ok, as I skim this document I like what I see. Its very well structured and more progressive than I expected :)

I am excited to see the expansion and enhancement of transit service in the county... especially increasing headways. I am curious to know how the Pedestrian projects were prioritized. Can you share anything there? Feel free to email me at [email protected] as I am genuinely curious. As far as the list, I think that it seems reasonable.

Given the distribution of revenues to all modes of transportation, the application of a complete streets policy, and the fact that there are specifically identified projects that would be implemented (like York's "Pennies for Progress" tax) I think that this is a solid document, and I would support a tax for this.

I hope that others will take the time to skim this document and see the list of projects that it recommends. Its quite a list!

Link to Transportation Study Document

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Spartan,

The county appointed a 39-member Transportation Study Commission to develop the plan. The members were divided into an Executive Committee and three working subcommittees: Roads, Transit, and Greenways/Bike/Pedestrian.

The three working subcommittees developed a list of projects and priorities. These priorities were based on where the greatest need existed, and on the Greenways/Bike/Pedestrian side especially, how these projects could tie into the existing infrastructure. (It wouldn't make much sense to create a greenway or bike lane that didn't link to anything...)

One other thing to point out, the commission has recommended that the county adopt a "Complete Streets" philosophy. just about all of the roadway projects will include sidewalks, bike lanes, or both. (SC 60 in Lexington County near the dam is a good example of what street widenings like Hardscrabble will look like.)

In response to Waccamat's post...

The SC Code of Laws does not currently allow counties to exempt food and clothing from local sales taxes. There is a bill currently in conference committee (H 4335) that, under the Senate version, would give counties the option to exempt food. The legislature has adjourned sine die, so unless that bill is passed during the special session in a couple weeks, the county will not have that option.

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Spartan,

The county appointed a 39-member Transportation Study Commission to develop the plan. The members were divided into an Executive Committee and three working subcommittees: Roads, Transit, and Greenways/Bike/Pedestrian.

The three working subcommittees developed a list of projects and priorities. These priorities were based on where the greatest need existed, and on the Greenways/Bike/Pedestrian side especially, how these projects could tie into the existing infrastructure. (It wouldn't make much sense to create a greenway or bike lane that didn't link to anything...)

One other thing to point out, the commission has recommended that the county adopt a "Complete Streets" philosophy. just about all of the roadway projects will include sidewalks, bike lanes, or both. (SC 60 in Lexington County near the dam is a good example of what street widenings like Hardscrabble will look like.)

In response to Waccamat's post...

The SC Code of Laws does not currently allow counties to exempt food and clothing from local sales taxes. There is a bill currently in conference committee (H 4335) that, under the Senate version, would give counties the option to exempt food. The legislature has adjourned sine die, so unless that bill is passed during the special session in a couple weeks, the county will not have that option.

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Isn't the tax on food and clothing less than the total sales tax now? Is that just because it is lower on the state's portion?

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Last year the state eliminated the sales tax on groceries. That exemption was applicable only to the state tax though, and not on local sales taxes.

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Status report:

Last night, Richland County Council unanimously gave first reading approval to an ordinance authorizing a referendum for the one-cent transportation sales tax. This vote was generally seen as a formality.

A work session has been scheduled for 3:30 PM on June 24th in council chambers.

Second reading is scheduled for the council meeting on July 1st.

Third (and final) reading and a public hearing will likely be held on July 15th.

This will be a high stakes referendum this fall. According to the most recent CMRTA audit, without a permanent funding source in place by next spring, bus service will be cut in half by June 2009, and service will be terminated entirely in December 2009.

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I think this is a well put-together proposal and I think it will pass in Richland County. The fact is that you get what you pay for and this project is not a "tax for tax sake", it has a well documented set of uses, which I pretty much agree with.

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Even though this isn't a permanent funding source for CMRTA it is smart to tie it together with sidewalks, bike facilities, and roadway enhancements to create an overall transportation package. I think people will vote for this since there is a large emphasis on road enhancements. I hope that the Planning Dept will sell this aspect of it along with the the "complete streets" concept. Most people are in favor of complete streets.

I'm glad that council moved forward with this. I hope that Richland County has enough foresight to see what this is a useful tax to have.

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Richland County Council will hold a public hearing on an ordinance authorizing a transportation sales tax referendum this November.

The public hearing will take place on Tuesday, July 15th at 6:00 PM in council chambers (2020 Hampton Street).

Any interested citizen is welcome to attend and speak in regards to the possible referendum.

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Jeez, just how much of a sales tax do they think people will take. It is already 10% on prepared food, which is ridiculous, IMO.

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Jeez, just how much of a sales tax do they think people will take. It is already 10% on prepared food, which is ridiculous, IMO.

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Jeez, just how much of a sales tax do they think people will take. It is already 10% on prepared food, which is ridiculous, IMO.

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As long as it's going to needed services I'm ok with it. You get what you pay for.

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If the State had an adequate funding structure, the counties wouldn't have to fill in the gaps.

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If the State had an adequate funding structure, the counties wouldn't have to fill in the gaps.

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This is true, but the state does whatever it can to make the cities suffer in this state.

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Someone with some true power of persuasion has got to crack some heads together in the General Assembly next session to change the anti-city mindset in this state.

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Here is the Richland County plan, as it currently stands:

A one-cent sales tax would raise approximately $521 million for transportation projects over eight years.

The recommendations from the Transportation Study Commission include:

  • 119.8 miles of new bike lanes

  • 27.4 miles in new greenways

  • 49.37 miles of new sidewalks and pedestrian facilities

  • 40 intersection improvements for pedestrian access

  • 13 roadway intersection improvements

  • 7 major road widenings

  • 3 special projects (including the Assembly St. railroad grade separation and Shop Rd. extension)

  • 7 program enhancements (including tripling the amount of money available for dirt road paving and roadway refurfacing)

  • Maintaining and expanding bus service in Richland County

  • Enhancing transit facilities (including benches, shelters, trash cans, and improved signage at bus stops, where warranted)

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Thanks for the update! I sincerely hope that this passes. I think that if people see road widening, intersection improvements, the special projects, and greenways, that they will vote for it. One of the more interesting paradoxes in transportation planning is that people want all of these things, but they don't always understand what really makes up a true transportation system, and that widening roads is not the only solution to transportation problems.

I have to ask though- does the County have plans to make new roads and increase connectivity?

Someone with some true power of persuasion has got to crack some heads together in the General Assembly next session to change the anti-city mindset in this state.

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The plan will get a second reading by county council, and hopefully this will get put on the ballot in November.

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I know people are struggling with higher prices for many things, but I still think this has a chance to pass. I'm completely for it as is. It will improve our quality of life and hopefully attract higher paying companies and promote positive growth.

I have already contacted my county representative and said that I support this measure as is. I let her know that if any changes are made, like taking money from bike lanes and sidewalks to pave roads, then I will not support it.

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Looks like County Council will consider final approval this proposal tonight. residents get a chance to weight in on it. I'm interested to see what people say. I suspect it will go well. I think that people are not opposed to a tax when they can clearly see why its needed and where the money will go.

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