Horry County council meeting to discuss a RIDE3 tax

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The "Riding on a Penny" tax is set to expire this year. But now Horry County Council members are starting efforts to keep the extra tax around on your bill.

The current extra sales tax you've been paying since 2007, called RIDE II, is the extra 1 percent tax you pay when you go shopping, book a hotel or eat at a restaurant. It's set to expire in March, and the council is getting ready to add on this tax for a third time, called RIDE III.

Thursday will be the first official meeting to discuss the "when." There will be a big debate on the timeline, as some council members want to get the tax put back on your bill by the end of this year to keep a constant stream of money coming in. Others tell WMBF News they would rather wait and take their time.

"We would have to rush this process through," exclaimed Horry County Councilman Bob Grabowski. "And I'm not a proponent for rushing this process through. This is something we should take our time with and come up with a good number of roads we're going to do and miles we're going to pave. And it worked out very well for the taxpayers of Horry County."

Horry County Council members will hash it out Thursday to agree on when it will take place. It took council two years of work to get RIDE II in order. But now that council members have had experience putting together the tax, they think they can do it sooner this time.

There's plenty of talk as far as which roads will get the tax money. Different areas are making wish lists of numerous projects they'd like to see happen, but first it has to make the county's overall list.

The selected projects will be a range of multi-million dollar work: expansion, paving, and repaving. Council will put together a RIDE III committee to find the roads that need work. This committee will be a mix of local leaders and officials, who will pick out and rank the road projects that are the highest priority. Council members have mentioned roads that are already on their radar, like Carolina Forest Boulevard and Forestbrook Road. Residents will get the chance to chime in too, since the committee will get public input.

Grabowski says it's an important process.

"These roads need some work, and they need it really quickly," explained Grabowski. "So it's not hard to identify what's really important, and as soon as we get to the bottom of the list of how many miles of dirt roads we're going to pave, that's where we're going to have to do some work."

The RIDE III tax committee has not been formed yet, but if residents already want their road choice known, then they should contact their district's council member. But either way they will have a say. The list of selected roads, and the RIDE III tax itself, will go to a referendum for majority approval first.

The first county council workshop to discuss RIDE III starts Thursday at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at The Government and Justice Building.

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