State months behind on paying road contractors

      Paving contractors in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee have not received payment for the state in months and some of the tell NewsChannel 15 it's causing a major financial hardship for them.

      State officials say the reasons for the delay include a drop in gas tax revenues, and it could be several weeks before contractors receive even partial payments.

      State Comptroller Richard Eckstrom says paving contractors all over the state are waiting to be paid for some of the work they've done as part of the Federal Recovery Act.

      Eckstrom says the Recovery Act requires the state to pay for the work first and then be reimbursed by the federal government.

      But Eckstrom says the SC DOT is running low on money that it keeps in a floating account to pay the contractors.

      Some contractors have told us they've gone into debt purchasing materials and need that money to pay their suppliers.

      One Horry County contractor, who asked not to be identified, said the state owes his company $8 to $10 million dollars and it's been more than 60 days since his last payment from the state.

      He says he hasn't yet reached the point of laying off workers, but his company may have to slow down some projects until he gets paid.

      Eckstrom says gas tax revenues are off by about 4 percent, and the state legislature took some of the money from the DOT's floating account to help balance the state budget.

      Eckstrom says he sympathizes with contractors and wants the DOT to be upfront with them, so they can plan accordingly.

      Several local contractors who we contacted for reaction declined to speak on the record for fear of jeopardizing their business with the state.

      Among the projects funded by the Federal Recovery Act was the Highway 31 extension, which received $10 million dollars in stimulus funds.