What's in the Florence County referendum to extend the penny sales tax

Florence County is asking voters to approve a referendum on November 5 to extend the penny sales tax for another seven years.

The tax was first approved in 2006 to fund six major road widening projects in the county. It ends April 30 and is expected to have generated roughly $144 million.

Next week's referendum includes a whole new set of capital improvement projects and is expected to raise more than $145 million.

The money will fund eight new fire stations, water and sewer improvements, 911 radio system upgrades, 150 additional fire hydrants in the City of Florence, two new EMS stations and 300 road improvement projects.

You can click here for a complete list of the projects and the cost of each.

Florence County Council Chairman James Schofield says the projects are critically important to the county.

"This is about needs. This is not about wishing. Not about water parks or anything like that. Of the $145 million it will raise, $2.8 million is for recreation items. The rest is roads and for public safety items," said Schofield.

Some people say they'll vote to approve the referendum because they feel as if the projects are worthwhile and beneficial to the county.

"I'm in favor of extending the penny sales tax. I believe that the municipalities need to be funded. The projects that the penny sales tax are used for are worthwhile and that we all need to pay our share of the taxes in order to keep our communities looking good," said Brad Kaiser.

"It's for the safety, for the better of the roads. And it's good, you know. You won't miss a penny. I think it's good for the public," explained Brad McAllister.

Some voters aren't so convinced.

They're still upset the county hasn't finished all of the six road improvement projects from the original penny sales tax approved in 2006.

"I think we pay enough taxes now. And they need to fix roads they've already got the penny sales tax for from," said Mary Osborne.

"I think they been very, less than forthcoming about what they done with the money they've had for the past seven years. And I don't see a whole lot of work that's been performed. And I don't think they've sold to the people why they need another seven years of this money," said Thomas Flowers.

Schofield says the money is in the bank to finish the roads, but it goes beyond council's control.

"You can't build the road without federal wetlands permits, the Corps of Engineers permits and getting the proper documentation . So, those projects are going to be built. People need to understand, yes it's frustrating they're not out there and done yet. But they're going to be built."

He says construction is already underway on Pamplico Highway and set to begin on TV Road, Timmonsville Highway and Highway 378 in the spring of 2014.

Schofield adds Alligator Road is still in the design stages, but will be completed.

"People need to understand, yes it's frustrating, they're not out there and done yet, but they're going to be built." added Schofield.

The South Carolina Attorney General's Office and the South Carolina Department of Revenue took Florence County to the State Supreme Court asking it to stop the November 5 referendum.

The high court ruled against the state saying the referendum could go forward.