“It’s pretty clear that our road fee does not pass muster,” Lynch said. The fee generates about $7 million a year and Lynch said he thinks the county can find money in its general budget to replace the fees.
There have been other attempts in recent years to repeal the fee passed in 2005 to pay for road and bridge maintenance, but the high court ruling sealed its fate, County Council Chairman Manning Lynch said. County Council will need to vote two more times to officially end the fee, the Herald-Journal of Spartanburg reported. “I’m committed to improving our infrastructure,” Lynch said.
Spartanburg County Council also gave the first of three needed votes to borrowing $30 million for other road projects. Council is considering asking voters to approve a penny increase in sales tax to pay the money back. County taxpayers are currently in a six-year period of paying an extra one cent on the dollar to pay for a new courthouse and other buildings. That tax ends in 2024.
A number of counties across South Carolina are reconsidering road fees and other user fees after the June 30 state Supreme Court ruling that the fees don’t apply uniformly for a service or public improvement and are therefore taxes under state law. All taxes have to be approved by the state General Assembly. In 2017, former Spartanburg County Councilman Roger Nutt sided with three Greenville County legislators who filed the successful suit against the fee saying it was a backdoor way to tax people without input from lawmakers.
“It’s an extra tax when they’re already paying taxes,” Nutt said in December 2017. “You feel the taxes you pay should already pay for roads.”
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