Penny Sales Tax adds up to millions in excess

For seven years, the 'Riding on a Penny' initiative has added up to millions of dollars to fund road projects. | Source: Horry County
For seven years, the 'Riding on a Penny' initiative has added up to millions of dollars to fund road projects. | Source: Horry County

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - For seven years, the 'Riding on a Penny' initiative has added up to millions of dollars to fund road projects. New reports show how much money was actually collected over that time period.

When the referendum was put into place back in 2006, the county was slated to receive $425,307,500 for a total of 15 road projects.

On August 4, the County Administrator totaled the revenue from the Capital Projects Sales Tax. The office found the fund equaled $446,898,897, nearly $22 million more than the total amount budgeted.

The last phase of the penny sales tax over the 2014 fiscal year led to the highest amount of funds raised. It accounted for nearly $70 million of the total.

Under a federal law that was in place in 2006 when the tax initiative passed, the excess funds must be transferred to the general fund. The Horry County Council will then decide how to spend it.

However, county officials explain that decision is a long way down the road.

First, all the road construction projects have to be finished. Of the 15 construction projects slated under the Riding on a Penny initiative, only five are complete. Five more are currently under construction.

Once all those projects are finished, the county can develop a proposed project list on how the council can spend the additional funds, if any exist after all construction costs are tallied up.

The staff will most likely recommend the funds are kept for additional road projects.

The process is already underway to create another penny sales tax to fund additional road improvement projects throughout the county. The committee will meet next week to begin that discussion.

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