SC Attorney General sues Florence County over penny sales tax extension revenue

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office and the South Carolina Department of Revenue have filed a lawsuit against Florence County seeking an injunction for the November 5 referendum for the extension of the penny sales tax extension.

The suit was filed Wednesday and names Florence County, Florence County Council and the Florence County Registration and Voters and Elections Office.

The attorney general's office is saying 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 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 2006 tax are insufficient alone 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 has 20 days to respond to the lawsuit.

A hearing date has not been set.

WPDE NewsChannel 15 will keep you updated on what happens.