May 1: Penny Tax Goes Into Effect

10:18 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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Richland County, SC (WLTX) - The Richland County Penny Tax will go into effect starting on the first day of May.

Last year the voters in Richland County passed the highly debated penny sales it appeared on the ballot for the third time. But an appeal put a stop to the county and C-M-R-T-A from using the funds.

Last week the state supreme court dismissed that appeal, allowing county leaders to begin making what they call much needed changes.

"The expectations are, alright now you got it lets go," said Councilman Kelvin Washington.

With the penny tax drama finally settled, county leaders can now start using millions to improve roads and the cities bus system.

"I know we have 45 million for dirt roads, 45 million for re-surfacing of local subdivision roads," said Washington.

Washington says the county is in the "ramp up" phase. He says there is a long term vision but there are also some short term plans like improving Shop Road in Columbia.

"There are a few companies that we missed out on because we didn't have the proper infrastructure and some companies that are in the pipeline right now but we do have time to plan for that."

CMRTA will receive 300 million dollars over 22 years. Executive Director Bob Schneider says they'll be able to bring routes that were cut back in to service starting May 13th.

"We can expect our routes to see an additional two hours of service, keeping service on the roads until 9PM which is a reasonable place to start. We had a number of routes lose their midday service so we are going to start replacing those," said Schneider.

Last year CMRTA cut 40 percent of their service. With the new funds Schneider says they will be able to bring those routes back and purchase new equipment in the future.

"We took important and lifeline services away so what we are going to be doing in the next six months to a year figuring out how to put those back in a strategic affective way that keeps riders going and our busses full."

Councilman Washington says to that about 40 percent of the citizens that are paying the tax will be non Richland County residents.


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