Several county officials in South Carolina are tired of driving down bumpy roads. They have tasked voters this November in Lexington and Greenville counties with the decision at the ballot box of whether to impose an additional one-cent sales tax on themselves to improve local roads.
But opponents are encouraging voters to reject such measures, saying the funds won’t all go to road repairs.
Some of it is slated for bike paths, greenways and other recreational projects.
The state and federal governments treat gas tax revenue this way also.
According to the libertarian publication, Reason Magazine, at least 25 percent of federal gas tax funds are used for non-highway projects like sidewalks and scenic trails.
Advocates of raising the state gas tax point out the state’s 16-cents-a-gallon tax hasn’t been raised since 1987. Cars are more fuel-efficient than they were then, which means less tax revenue is available to meet the increased demand of more cars on roadways.
But not all state revenue goes to roadways. For example, $18 million of the more than $489 million in gas tax revenue collected in fiscal year 2003-2004 was set aside for economic development, according to a 2005 fiscal impact statement by the state Budget and Control Board.
Activists say any tax increases advertised as being intended for road improvements should be used for roads alone.
State lawmakers will assemble in January for a new legislative session. Funding road improvements is high on their agenda.
The state is facing over the next 20 years an estimated shortfall of $30 billion needed to repair roads and bridges.
According to the state Transportation Department, nine of the 8,418 state bridges are closed, 22 are under construction and 1,600 are substandard.