‘The roads are horrible:’ both Spartanburg and Greenville consider Penny Sales Tax to fix county roads

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 10:27 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - As the upstate becomes home to more people every day, that means more cars are using our roads. Leaders in both Spartanburg and Greenville counties are looking for ways to improve the safety and quality of the areas we travel most.

“We’ve got a serious problem with roads in Spartanburg County,” said Spartanburg County Councilman David Britt.

Spartanburg’s roads need more than a band-aid. They need a plan to fix them.

“How are we going to come up with $500 million to fix the roads and get into a safe shape? One of the tools that that was presented to us is a penny sales tax,” he said.

Britt says Spartanburg’s current penny tax, which paid for the new courthouse and other government buildings, is proof that it works. But that ends in April 2024, so leaders are considering putting another tax on the ballot this year.

“30% of that tax is paid for from people outside of Spartanburg County” said Britt.

The councilman says this time, he’d like for the profit to only go to roads. If Spartanburg does move forward with another penny tax referendum, they’ll first target roads that need the most work and get the most traffic. Improvements include paving, widening, traffic flow and safety improvements. Things Greenville says it needs too.

“The roads are horrible,” said Greenville County Councilman, Ennis Fant.

Councilman Fant says Greenville tried a penny tax back in 2014, but voters shut it down because they didn’t exempt medicine and groceries from being taxed. Even though the county recently increased the road maintenance fee to $25, there needs to be more.

“Do we raise the maintenance fee, which nobody likes already? Do we increase mileage which nobody likes? Or do we look at another option?” he said.

Greenville County needs billions of dollars over the next decade. That’s why a penny tax is an option here, too.

“What we don’t have the option to do is nothing because doing nothing is why we’re in a situation we’re in,” said Fant.

If the counties decide to pursue a penny sales tax this year. They could be on the ballot in November. Before it ends up on a ballot, they first have to create a detailed plan, listing which roads and improvements money would go towards.