FLORENCE COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – The Florence County Council is taking the first step to building a parking garage in downtown Florence.
Council members passed the first reading of an ordinance during Thursday's county council meeting. It introduced a bond ordinance for up to $15 million.
County officials expect the four-level deck to cost around $12 million.
Florence County Administrator Rusty Smith said the bond will be refinanced and $4 million or $5 million dollars will come from the Florence County penny sales tax.
The refinancing will save $700,000 of debt as well. Smith said there will be no millage or tax increase for Florence County taxpayers.
No official design of the parking deck has been released yet, but it is expected to be built behind the county complex building.
The county has sent requests and proposals to engineers for the exact location. Chastity Barnes lives in Florence and visits the county complex building to pay her taxes. Barnes said she hopes the parking deck will be near Dargan and Baroody streets.
"There's a lot of vacant buildings or abandoned buildings that could be torn down over there and used, and especially since a lot of the central downtown area looks so great, there are a lot of old buildings that could be repaired or torn down to make room for the garage," she said.
With all of the construction and growth happening around downtown Florence, the need for more parking is a strong one. City officials built a parking garage in 2016 with the Emerson Apartment complex and this will be the first time the county is creating a solution to the problem.
"I think the long-term result will be great for the county," Barnes said. "It will be a huge benefit to have parking, so it won't be overly congested as well as be able to continue to grow in the future."
Florence County Council still has to go through second and third reading to pass the project, so it could be November at the earliest to approve it.