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York County’s roads: The real victims of winter weather

By the time York County’s roads thaw Friday, the damage to millions of square feet of asphalt will have already been one.

York County’s roads took a beating this week — between the snow and ice, freezing and thawing. Chances are, this weekend, you will find potholes along your daily commute that were not there Tuesday morning.

This begs the question — How do our local lawmakers plan to fund the repairs of existing roads?

State lawmakers have set aside $69 million in the 2013-2014 budget for “C” Funds, funded by a 2.66-cent tax on a gallon of gas. This year, $2.2 million has been set aside for York County, distributed at the discretion of county council.

In June, S.C. Governor Nikki Haley signed into law a bill that sets aside $700 million towards repairing South Carolina’s roads and bridges. Funding for that program comes from borrowed money, redirected car sales taxes, state surplus funds and matching funds from the federal government.

But that money, according to the S.C. Department of Transportation, will only pay for the replacement of two bridges in York County, both located in unincorporated areas.

Now, local legislators — S.C. Sen. Greg Gregory and Rep. Raye Felder, have introduced a plan to help cover the cost of fixing local roads. Both lawmakers have introduced bills in their respective organizations to allow local governments to levy up to a two-cent additional tax on gas to fund road repairs.

Felder, of Fort Mill, calls it “Pennies for Potholes.”

“This would actually give each county the opportunity to have a referendum which would allow the voters to decide,” on the tax, Felder said. The money would stay in the county in which it was collected.

The program is modeled after York County’s Pennies for Progress program and would bring in an estimated $400,000 in yearly revenue.

“In order to have economic development and a commercial tax base, you must have the roads to get the attention of the companies and industries that want to expand, Felder said.

There’s no word on when the respective lawmakers’ bills will come up for debate.

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