By Al Dozier

Lexington County Council approved a penny sales tax that would fund millions in road improvements and bring some relief to the congested roads throughout Lexington County.

But it will be up to voters to make the final decision during the November elections.

At the June 7 meeting, the council agreed to a modified plan that designated funds strictly for road surface improvements. The approval comes after an earlier proposal was rejected because council members said it funded projects that were not related directly to road surface improvements.

Council Chairman Scott Whetstone said the Lexington County Capital Project Sales Commission, which formulated the original plan, complied with the council’s request with the new plan.

“There are some road drainage projects but that is considered a part of road improvements,” Whetstone said.

Some of the projects removed from the list included wastewater collection improvements for the Avenues and Broadacres area of Cayce, improvements to the Cayce Riverwalk, and a sidewalk connecting Lexington Avenue in Chapin to Crooked Creek Park.

One of the largest projects that will be included in the plan is the widening and repaving of Longs Pond Road in Lexington County, which will cost an estimated $64 million. Also listed as part of the project are upgrades on Pisgah Church Road, Charter Oak Road, St. Peters Road and bridges.

Another major improvement will be a repaving project for the Gibson Road Parkway in the town of Lexington at a cost of approximately $25 million. An intersection improvement project on Corley Mill Bypass in the town of Lexington is estimated to cost around $28 million.

Whetstone said Lexington County hasn’t been raising taxes in recent years, but the need for road improvements required the penny sales tax.

“It was the only way we could do it.”

Jim Ewart, chairman of the sales tax commission, said the taxes collected over an eight-year period designated for the plan are estimated to reach $563 million. But the final total is subject to change as the collections vary over time.

Asked if he thought voters would approve it, Whestone had no prediction.

“I’ll vote for it,” he said.

A similar proposal introduced in 2014 was rejected by voters.

The council action was a first-reading vote, so the proposal still must reach final reading, but the council appears to be completely supportive of the revised measure.

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