Powering Greenville Forward…One Penny at a Time
Sep 17, 2013
The Greenville County Council is considering putting a transportation penny sales tax referendum on the 2014 ballot. They are currently leaning towards a process that would result in revenues funding only road projects, so advocates are working to make sure that there is a clear allocation for bike/ped projects and transit as well.
With funding from Advocacy Advance, Upstate Forever, a local organization advocating for sustainable communities, and local partners will conduct a public poll that seeks to determine whether Greenville County voters would be more likely to support a local sales tax referendum that includes bike, pedestrian, and/or transit projects, or one that focuses solely on funding road projects.
South Carolina state law provides several avenues through which a local transportation sales tax option may be implemented, each of which results in a different revenue allocation across projects that support various transportation modes. Advocates are looking to Charleston County, where a public poll showed that voters were most likely to support a local transportation sales tax referendum if some of the generated funds would provide for open space. The campaign therefore focused primarily on open space and the measure was passed narrowly in 2004.
In 2012 – after two failed ballot measures over four years – citizens of Richland County voted for a multi-modal transportation penny sales tax, which will provide more than $80.8 million for biking, walking and greenway infrastructure through 2034. Advocates are using this multi-modal project demand as a model for the county bond.
If the sales tax referendum is successful, nearly $70 million dollars in revenue will be collected annually. If even 5 to 10 percent of this goes to fund pedestrian and bike projects, the amount would equate to approximately $3.5 to $7 million invest- ed in infrastructure that supports active transportation, the impact of which would be a “game-changer” for walking and biking facilities.
“This is huge opportunity to dramatically improve multimodal transportation in Greenville County,” says Lisa Halo, Sustainable Communities Program Director at Upstate Forever. “(this opportunity) will be missed if Council members advance a local sales tax initiative that does not include bike, pedestrian, and transit projects.”
Advocacy Advance provided Upstate Forever with a Rapid Response Grant to support their efforts to ensure that any pennies collected via an increased sales tax serve all forms of transportation, not just roads.
Photo: Bike Walk Greenville