Post Tagged with: "road maintenance"

Road Maintenance Debate Could Affect Coast

February 7, 2017 5:36 AM
Travis Bell Photographers

An interesting debate on road maintenance funding appears to be forming in the SC General Assembly that could have ramifications for coastal Horry County.

Estimates in Columbia project the state needs over $1 billion annually of new revenue to fix and maintain the state’s crumbling road system.

A bill has been introduced to raise the gas tax by 10 cents over a period of five years, along with other fee increases on things like automobile registrations, automobile purchases and the like. That bill, if passed, is estimated to contribute approximately $600 million per year when fully implemented.

An increase in the gas tax gets the state about 50% toward its goal. How to get the rest of the way? Casino gambling at the coast with the tax and fee revenue generated going back to Columbia to fund road maintenance.

The desire for casino gambling has never left the minds of certain players along the Grand Strand.

In 2009, this group put its initial support behind Gresham Barrett in the governor’s race. Remember the $85,000 funneled to Barrett that was part of Coastal Kickback?

But Barrett lost to Nikki Haley and talk of casino gambling faded into the background. Now Haley is gone and new Gov. Henry McMaster is, reportedly, at least willing to listen to the arguments for signing a casino gambling bill if it passed by the General Assembly.

According to our sources, at five different local sites are being discussed for possible casinos: the old Myrtle Square Mall site, what is called the South Mixed Use District (part of the Municipal Improvement District being planned in Myrtle Beach), a site near the intersection of S.C. 22 and S.C. 31, a site on S.C. 9 and the former Hard Rock Park site.

Read more ›

Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

September 8, 2016 5:06 AM
Horry County Council’s Cowardly Road Decision

Horry County Council took the coward’s way out from making potentially controversial decisions when it passed third reading of a county road maintenance ordinance Tuesday night.

In passing the ordinance, council shifted the decision making process to county staff on which roads currently maintained by the county should be removed from further maintenance with county tax dollars.

The excuse is the county is maintaining some roads that are actually driveways or serve no public benefit.

There’s no question taxpayer dollars should not be spent on private driveways or other roads that do not generally benefit county taxpayers.

But what exactly is a public benefit?

In the past, county council allowed private gates to restrict access to public roads in the Myrtle Trace sub-division. Those roads were paved and maintained by the county but restricted to use by sub-division residents only.

When that issue was exposed in the media, Horry County Attorney John Weaver attempted to justify that it was perfectly legal to restrict access on public roads.

Ultimately, Myrtle Trace residents agreed to remove the roads from the county system and maintain them privately. But, that decision only came after the roads were repaved with county tax dollars one more time.

Council member Al Allen was correct in his criticism of county council being taken out of the decision to remove roads from county maintenance.

It takes a majority vote of county council to accept roads into the county road maintenance system. Why should it take a decision of only a few members of staff to remove roads from that same system?

Allen said the idea behind county staff making the determination of which roads to remove from the county road maintenance system was to take the politics out of the decision.

Read more ›

Roads, Radios, Taxes and Horry County Council

November 18, 2015 6:00 AM
Roads, Radios, Taxes and Horry County Council

The next time we hear Horry County Council members talk about raising taxes, let’s move immediately for recall elections.

There is no provision for recall of elected officials in the state constitution. But, this is the Independent Republic the law doesn’t really apply here anyway.

Certainly very little fiscal responsibility does.

Last spring six members of Horry County Council were determined to raise property taxes by 7.2 mils, the largest increase allowed by law.

Why? Because the county was running out of money and all the county employees, especially public safety, needed pay raises. Or so county council told us at the time.

We were told the road maintenance tax had to be raised by 67% or roads in the county system couldn’t be maintained.

Remember all the talk about the county looking at removing roads from the county road system?

Five months down the road, all that is forgotten. Horry County Council got the tax increases it wanted and business as usual reigns again in Conway.

Tomorrow, the county Infrastructure and Regulation Committee will consider recommending seven resolutions to accept new roads and drainage into the County Maintenance System.

An early prediction is they will all pass.

Horry County Council is two-thirds of the way, with third reading passage of the ordinance guaranteed, to use approximately $16 million in excess revenue from Ride II tax collections for a new 900 MHz radio system for countywide communications.

The Ride II (Riding on a Penny) referendum was passed by the voters of the county to build roads. However, now that there is excess revenue from it Horry County Council quickly found a way to spend that excess in another area.

In 1993, when the current 800 MHZ system was first put in place, county and city officials were told it would have a lifespan of approximately 25 years. Motorola, the system provider, told county officials it would stop servicing the 800 MHz system at the end of next year.

Did Horry County Council establish some type of escrow fund so the money for a new system would be there when it was needed?

Of course not!

Read more ›

SC General Assembly Largesse to CTC

July 2, 2015 7:05 AM
SC General Assembly Largesse to CTC

Thanks to the SC General Assembly, it is Christmas early for County Transportation Committees (CTC) and their buddies.

CTC’s are one of those independent agencies started before Home Rule which allow the county legislative delegations to appear to be doing something for the people back home while maintaining control of the purse strings.

In 36 of South Carolina’s 46 counties, the CTC is an independent agency appointed by the county legislative delegation. County government should be the recipient in every county, but that’s not the way it works in South Carolina.

Basic “C” funds come from 2.66 cents of the 16 cents per gallon state tax on gasoline and are apportioned to the counties according to a formula established in state law. Horry County receives about $3.5 million each year from this source.

However, the SC General Assembly had about $300 million in excess funds to distribute for next fiscal year. Instead of the normal $3.5 million, the Horry County CTC will be receiving $15.1 million this year.

If that money had been returned to county government, there would have been no need for county council to raise the county road fee from $30 per vehicle to $50 per vehicle in this fiscal year.

Read more ›

SC General Assembly Ongoing Road Problems

June 10, 2015 7:15 AM
SC General Assembly Ongoing Road Problems

The effort to find funding to fix the state’s roads will be the elephant in the room when the SC General Assembly convenes in January 2016.

With several road bills already in the legislative process, how to mix a possible gas tax increase with other proposals in an election year will cause big problems for legislators.

An astute political observer I have known for a long time predicts no road maintenance bill will be passed next year because of the elections.

Read more ›

Last Regular Week for SC General Assembly

June 2, 2015 6:13 AM
Last Regular Week for SC General Assembly

The SC General Assembly meets today to begin its last regular week of this legislative year.

To say this year has been a disappointment in real legislation is an understatement. In fact, this year will be known by what wasn’t accomplished rather than by what was.

An attempt to pass an ethics reform bill hung up on the shoals of the SC Senate. Seems our senators are determined to keep ethics oversight within the Senate Ethics Committee. No independent investigations of conduct of senators are allowed unless the Senate okays it (read Robert Ford).

Read more ›

Sen. Tom Davis and SC Roads

May 23, 2015 7:02 AM
Sen. Tom Davis and SC Roads

Sen. Tom Davis, filibustering the Capital Reserve Fund bill (H 3702), talked much about roads this week.

Second reading of H 3579 is waiting on the SC Senate calendar behind two other contested bills, but a Davis filibuster this week of the reserve fund bill may give some indications of things to come for roads.

It appears one goal of the Davis filibuster is to defeat an increase in the state gas tax.

Davis criticized past decisions by SCDOT and the State Infrastructure Bank. But, including CTC’s in any decision making on road maintenance doesn’t work. While county governments would be tasked with maintaining their own current road network plus any additional roads dumped by the state, the CTC works independently from county government in 36 of the state’s 46 counties.

Davis’ solution is to dump state roads on counties, give a little more money to an independent committee within those counties and have the state essentially wash its hands of responsibility for approximately 50% of the roads it has not maintained throughout the years.

All in the name of not raising taxes.

This demonstrates the problem of electing people to public office who have no clue how to govern. An ideology of not raising taxes while passing fiscal problems down the line to the next lower government entity doesn’t work.

Read more ›

The Do-Nothing SC General Assembly

May 3, 2015 8:00 AM
The Do-Nothing SC General Assembly

The SC General Assembly is moving quickly to another do-nothing year with respect to legislation that may actually be positive for the state.

Ethics reform went down in February because the Senate would not allow independent oversight of its members.

Legislation to raise money for road repairs is on the Senate’s contested calendar making it highly unlikely it will be up for a vote in the few weeks remaining in this legislative year.

Read more ›

S.C. Senate Committee Hearing on Roads

March 24, 2015 5:00 AM
S.C. Senate Committee Hearing on Roads

The S.C. Senate Finance Committee will hold a meeting March 24th on a roads bill sponsored by committee member Sen. Ray Cleary.

The bill, S.523, proposes increase a number of taxes and fees to pay for the road maintenance while also proposing to force counties to take control of approximately 50 percent of the roads currently maintained by SCDOT.

As with a bill currently making its way through the S.C. House, Cleary’s bill proposes to disband current County Transportation Committees and re-establish them with a new procedure for appointing members.

Read more ›

S.C. General Assembly Continues Funding Attacks

March 22, 2015 5:00 AM
S.C. General Assembly Continues Funding Attacks

The S.C. General Assembly continues to move forward with impunity on bills that will cause funding problems for local governments around the state.

H.3374, which deals with the local government fund, has already passed the House and lies in the Senate Finance Committee awaiting action.

The local government fund, now proposed to be renamed the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund, ostensibly returns a portion of state revenue to counties to help pay for state mandated offices. These include courts, solicitors, magistrates, public defenders, election commission, DSS, county health departments and the like.

Read more ›