By Paul Gable
Thanks to the SC General Assembly, it is Christmas early for County Transportation Committees (CTC) and their buddies.
CTC’s are one of those independent agencies started before Home Rule which allow the county legislative delegations to appear to be doing something for the people back home while maintaining control of the purse strings.
In 36 of South Carolina’s 46 counties, the CTC is an independent agency appointed by the county legislative delegation. County government should be the recipient in every county, but that’s not the way it works in South Carolina.
Basic “C” funds come from 2.66 cents of the 16 cents per gallon state tax on gasoline and are apportioned to the counties according to a formula established in state law. Horry County receives about $3.5 million each year from this source.
However, the SC General Assembly had about $300 million in excess funds to distribute for next fiscal year. Instead of the normal $3.5 million, the Horry County CTC will be receiving $15.1 million this year.
If that money had been returned to county government, there would have been no need for county council to raise the county road fee from $30 per vehicle to $50 per vehicle in this fiscal year.
But, it gets even worse.
Horry County has very specific road plans. The RIDE I and RIDE II plans were approved by county council and funded with Hospitality Tax and the State Infrastructure Bank for RIDE I and a one cent Capital Projects Sales Tax approved by referendum of the voters for RIDE II.
The road maintenance fee is included with property tax bills on all vehicles registered in the county. It pays for paving dirt roads and maintenance of existing roads in the county.
You can see Horry County taxpayers pay a significant amount of tax for building new roads and maintaining existing roads.
Basically none of the CTC money goes to any of the above projects even though it is state gas tax money returned to the counties ostensibly for road paving and maintenance.
Several years ago, GSD reported the paving of Goldmine Road with CTC funds.
According to the county website, the GIS link lists one residence on Goldmine Road while other dirt roads in the same area have multiple residences. Goldmine Road was not on the county’s priority list for paving, yet the CTC decided independently to pave the road.
Why? Because at the end of Goldmine Road is a private hunting camp owned by a friend of several of the CTC members.
Horry County taxpayers are hit with a big tax increase, at least partly because the SC General Assembly refuses to return local government fund money required by state law.
The same taxpayers are facing a 67% increase in road fees on every car they own this year to help pay for the county road plan.
But, the SC General Assembly is increasing CTC funds by approximately 400% this year so a group of ‘good ole boys’ can pave the driveways of their friends.
Doesn’t make sense.
Link to CTC disbursals from excess state revenue: ctc-proposed-income-for-fy-2015-2016