By Paul Gable
The S.C. Senate Finance Committee will hold a meeting March 24th on a roads bill sponsored by committee member Sen. Ray Cleary.
The bill, S.523, proposes increase a number of taxes and fees to pay for the road maintenance while also proposing to force counties to take control of approximately 50 percent of the roads currently maintained by SCDOT.
As with a bill currently making its way through the S.C. House, Cleary’s bill proposes to disband current County Transportation Committees and re-establish them with a new procedure for appointing members.
Unlike the House bill, S.523, if passed as currently written, would not give counties or CTC’s the choice to assume responsibility for current state roads. Instead, it gives SCDOT the authority to transfer any road it currently maintains within a county to that county.
Major provisions of the bill:
- Gives DOT the authority to transfer any road within a county to that county.
- Upon the transfer, counties would assume responsibility for the repair and maintenance of the roads to DOT standards, unless the county and DOT mutually agree to waive those standards.
- Each county would receive $750,000 for the maintenance and repair of the roads from a sales tax on vehicles.
- Any county that has imposed or imposes a one-cent sales tax exclusively for roads will be eligible to receive another $750,000 from a sales tax on vehicles.
- New CTCs must be appointed half by the legislative delegation and half by the County Council and must be made up of fair representation from municipalities and unincorporated areas of the county. Each CTC would receive half of the new revenue from the sales tax on vehicles. There were no other changes made to the CTC statutes, such as the requirement that at least 25 percent of their funds be spent on state roads.
This proposed bill is every bit as bad a deal for counties as S.C. House bill H.3579.