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      Florence County to see major changes due to penny sales tax extension

      Florence County Council is in the process of selling $125 million in bonds to immediately fund some of the 474 projects in the penny sales tax extension approved by voters in November.

      The tax is expected to generate $155 million over the next seven years.

      County Council Chairman James Schofield says they decided to sell the bonds rather than pay as you go plan they used in the original penny sales tax in 2006 to fund six major road improvement projects.

      "You had to wait for the money to come in to start building roads and getting permits and that slowed the projects down. A lot of people had problems with that. That's the smart way and it's cheaper because you don't have the bond cost, but we felt that the cost of these projects would go up more in seven years than the cost on the bonds. Because the interest rate is low on bonds right now," explained James Schofield.

      Schofield says they've already spent about $13 million in to move the county's 911 communications system from analog to digital.

      Construction should start on an new Florence County EMS station by the end of the year.

      There may be a slight delay with the eight new fire stations, but Schofield expects them to be built within three years.

      Extension of water and sewer lines are a top priority and work will begin on those projects as soon as the SC Department of Health Environmental Control clears the way.

      "The water and sewer projects they take time. You have to get DHEC approvals. Engineers have to draw plans. They have to go out for bids. But again the bond money will be available sitting there ready."

      Florence County will provide updates on the projects completed through the tax on its website. You can click here to track the progress.