Florence County replies to lawsuit filed against it by SC Attorney General

Florence County is asking the state Supreme Court to deny the SC Attorney General's Office and SC Department of Revenue's motion for an injunction against the county's November 5 referendum to extend the penny sales tax.

The attorney general's office says the sales tax extension is unlawful and the referendum improperly scheduled. Voters first approved the penny sales tax in 2006 for the widening of six roads in the county.

It went into effect in 2007.

The tax has generated more than $150 million with an additional $90 million secured by Florence County Senator Hugh Leatherman through the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank. It ends in 2014.

The county is asking voters to approve extending the tax by another seven years to fund additional capital projects.

The suit says the revenues from the 2006 tax are insufficient to complete the widening of the six roads. It says the total revenue will still fall nearly $50 million short, even with the Infrastructure Bank money.

The SC Attorney General's Office says the extension of the penny sales tax does not comply with the Capital Improvement Tax under state law because it is to be imposed for a new set of projects when the original tax is insufficiently funded.

The suit is asking a court to declare tax extension unlawful and stop the referendum.

Florence County's reply says its in full compliance with the provisions of the Capital Project Sales Tax Act.

It goes on to say "every penny" raised under the 2006 referendum will be devoted to projects approved under the referendum.

Florence County says in scheduling a new referendum to approve new projects, the county is merely exercising those powers explicitly granted to it under the express terms in the Act.

The county says it will not divert funds raised from the first referendum to projects other than those listed in the first referendum.

We are still waiting to learn if the SC Supreme Court will hear this case.