Get ready to pay a higher sales tax in Horry County - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Get ready to pay a higher sales tax in Horry County

A new sales tax for Horry County to help build roads will last eight years. (Source: WMBF News) A new sales tax for Horry County to help build roads will last eight years. (Source: WMBF News)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Businesses in Horry County are beginning to collect the 1 percent sales tax to build and improve roads residents drive on every day.

In November, voters approved the county raising the sales tax to build the nearly $600 million in road projects under the RIDE III initiative. The measure passed by a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent

The tax kicked in Monday and will run for the next eight years. It applies to retail sales, prepared food and beverages, and accommodations. Fuel and prescription medications are exempt.

A similar penny tax was established for RIDE II, but it only lasted 7 years. That measure allowed the county to tax groceries, but due to a change in state law, unprepared groceries were also exempt.

"But if you do go in the grocery store, you buy a rotisserie chicken that is already cooked, that is considered a prepared food and will be taxed the additional one percent," said county spokesperson Lisa Bourcier. "If you get raw chicken that's back in the meat section, that's considered an unprepared food and will not be taxed.”

RIDE III will pay for improvements to roads like U.S. 501, widening U.S. 701 near Conway, extending S.C. 31 to the state line, and widening Carolina Forest Boulevard, just to name a few. There are 15 projects total.

The plan also includes the paving and resurfacing of 100 miles worth of dirt roads.

Horry County officials expect to bring in $70 million a year, given the economy is still strong and there's no unforeseen disasters that would have an effect on the tax system.

Bourcier said while locals voted on the tax, most of the money will come from tourism dollars.

"Everybody pays," she said. "We do get millions of millions of tourists that do pay, go out to dinner, they do stay in hotels and they like to shop. So definitely the revenue, a large part of it comes from the tourist who visit (each) year, and of course the roads that are being funded will support the tourists as well." 

The county has already started some preliminary work for RIDE III. Bourcier said the project is a process, and roads have to be designed and permitted before awarded a construction contract.

For more information on RIDE III, click here.

Copyright 2017 WMBF News. All rights reserved.

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