The message from last week’s Horry County Transportation Committee meeting was Horry County Council would search for ways to provide additional funding for Coast RTA.
The transportation agency currently receives $1.055 million annually from the county’s general fund budget. According to remarks by council chairman Mark Lazarus, Coast RTA would like that amount to rise to approximately $1.9 million per year.
In addition, Coast RTA wants to spend a total of approximately $16 million on capital improvements for the system over the next several years. It should be noted, all of this money does not have to come from the county or other local government funding sources. The federal government provides 80% funding for capital expenditures with a 20% local match.
Still, $3.33 million must come from some form of local funding for these capital projects to be realized.
“We’ve got to figure out how to fund them,” Lazarus said during the meeting.
Lazarus said Horry County Administrator Chris Eldridge was investigating ways to provide Coast RTA with recurrent funding. Lazarus said a one-cent local option sales tax was one possibility that would be looked at.
During the discussion, Lazarus made one comment I didn’t understand. He said state law prohibits the use of (property tax) millage from being used to fund transportation.
However, property tax millage is exactly what is being used now and has been for years to provide Coast RTA with annual grants from Horry County.
An additional one-cent sales tax is unacceptable, in our opinion. A one-cent tax was just approved by voters for RIDE III last month. If a sales tax is the preferred way to fund Coast RTA, it should have been included in the list of projects for RIDE III, a perfectly acceptable use of RIDE funds if it had been included in the project list.