Lexington County official lay out possible effects of residents voting ‘no’ on Penny Sales Tax proposal

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Published: Nov. 9, 2022 at 8:51 PM EST
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LEXINGTON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Lexington County’s hot-button penny tax failed to resonate with voters – dealing a huge economic blow to the county’s future plans. Voters had the chance to decide whether or not to implement the eight-year tax in May of 2023.

The tax would have been used to fund a list of road and traffic improvement projects.

Results from the polls show that 45 percent of voters were for the tax and 54 percent were against it. Not even a 10 percent difference. WIS spoke with one council member who says losing this tax means residents will likely have to pay more in the long run.

“Voters made their choice on where their priorities lie,” said Councilmember, Charli Wessinger.

Wessinger sits on the Lexington County council representing district six. She says Lexington County’s population is continuing to grow, but without the funding for these road projects, the infrastructure will not be able to keep up with the growth.

More than 100 road and traffic improvement projects are now on the line. The Capital Sales Project Tax, also known as the Penny Tax would’ve brought in an estimated 535 million dollars to fix road and traffic issues, but a majority of Lexington County residents didn’t think the tax was a good choice.

“I voted no, on that so that’s where I stand on it. The last time they raised taxes we didn’t really see a whole lot of progress on that,” said Katie McCown, a Lexington County resident.

WIS looked at the population growth in Lexington County and in the past three years, the population grew by ten thousand. The growth put the county on track to meet the projected 388 thousand by the year 2030.

“The amount of funding that the penny tax would have given Lexington to fix all of the roads over the next number of years we don’t have the funding capability without that penny,” said Councilmember Wessinger.

“We won’t be able to get to those projects anytime soon,” she said.

Without the penny tax to meet that projected growth, Councilmember Wessinger says residents will now have to foot the bill for new projects.

“Other residents from other counties, coming into the county, passing through the county, on their way to the beach or to the mountains or coming to the lake to vacation, they would have contributed to fix our roads. The same as Lexington County citizens contribute to fix our surrounding county’s roads,” said Councilmember Wessinger.

Wessinger says council members have already looked at increasing fees like vehicle registration and stormwater drainage – but say those options would not have generated the income needed to fund the traffic and road improvement projects.

Wessinger tells WIS even dirt road conversions can be costly, citing that repaving just a mile will cost the county a million dollars. The top priority on the project list was turning Longs Pond Road from two lanes to five.

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