Anderson County presents information on proposed road fee

At Piercetown Fire Department
By Stan Welch
Several members of the Anderson County council hosted a meeting Tuesday night to introduce the public to the idea of a proposed twenty five dollar road fee. The meeting was held at the Piercetown firehouse, and was designed to explain the fee and the need for it, as well as receive public input.
Photo – Rita Davis, Anderson County’s Chief Financial Officer, presents information on a new $25 road fee proposal the county is considering to help maintain county roads. Approximately twenty five residents attended a town hall meeting held at the Piercetown Fire Department Tuesday to hear about the proposal and offer input.
Council members Tommy Dunn, Cindy Wilson, Brett Sanders and Jimmy Davis were on hand, as well as Representative Brian White.
Approximately twenty five residents listened as Rita Davis, the county’s Chief Financial Officer, made her presentation. She began with some historical context, explaining that the General Assembly, in recent years, has reduced the assessment ratio on vehicles from ten and a half per cent to six percent; a decision that results in an annual loss of $4.7 million in tax revenues.
She also pointed out that the schools consume sixty two percent of vehicle property taxes, while the county is expected to function on the remaining thirty eight per cent. That amounts to $8.9 million a year. Against that resource is the demand of maintaining 1534 miles of county roads and 131 bridges.
Of those miles, only 422 miles are considered to be in excellent shape, with another 692 miles in good condition. The projected cost of bringing all county roads to excellent status is approximately $185 million.
The Anderson County Council has approved $2.2 million for County road improvement projects over the next year. This funding is in addition to the money the State of South Carolina appropriates through the Anderson County Transportation Committee for local transportation projects.
The roads Council is prioritizing are as follows:
Planned Road Construction Projects
*        Hobson Road – 0.741 miles
*        Oakridge Court – 0.120 miles
*        Harbison Drive – 0.170 miles
*        Plantation Road – 0.237 miles
*        Branch Road – 0.383 miles
*        Valley Drive – 0.212 miles
*        Meadow Road – 0.214 miles
*        Hopewell Ridge – 0.606 miles
*        Winding Creek Road – 0.348 miles
*        Creekside Court – 0.047 miles
*        Crossridge Lane – 0.059 miles
*        Old Oak Trail – 0.081 miles
*        Grove Road – 1.290 miles
*        Shirley Drive – 1.330 miles
*        Airline Road – 1.449 miles
*        Firetower Road – 2.479 miles
*        Old Webb Road – 1.263 miles
*        Holden Lane – 0.045 miles
*        Cely Lane – 1.335 miles
*        Governor’s Boulevard – 0.484 miles (Alternate)County Administrator Rusty Burns said that the roads listed are among the worst in the county. “We tried to assure that each district received some attention with this list.”
Davis pointed out that there are 215,000 vehicles registered in Anderson County. She also added that a proposed exemption for those over sixty four years of age, or who have handicapped tags would reduce the vehicles subject to the fee by a total of 47,100, leaving 167,900 vehicles.
That would generate just under $4.2 million a year for use in road maintenance. The ordinance establishing the fee would also prohibit the revenue’s use from anything but county road upkeep; just as the recently enacted gasoline tax increase is not available for use by the counties, being dedicated by law to the upkeep of state roads only.