A proposed referendum on a penny sales tax in Lexington County cleared a major hurdle Tuesday when it received first-reading approval by Lexington County Council.
It still must past two more readings, but Council appears to be supportive of letting voters decide if they want to accept a penny-on-the-dollar sales tax to fund $361 million in projects that mostly address infrastructure improvements all across Lexington County.
Council Chairman Johnny Jeffcoat made it clear before the vote that Council was not voting to impose a sales tax on Lexington County.
“What we are doing is allowing the voters to decide,” he said. “If you don’t want it, vote no. If you want it, vote yes.”
Other council members reiterated the point that their vote did not mean they favored the tax.
Jeffcoat did emphasize that the county does not have the resources to fund needed road improvements. The state is not providing the help needed for roads as they have in the past. He said he has been advised that “it would take 135 years” to pay for needed road improvements with existing resources.
Eight of the county’s nine council members voted in favor of the measures. Councilman Bill Banning was absent from the meeting because of health reasons, according to Jeffcoat.
A list of the projects to be funded by the tax will appear on the ballot. Voters can also find them online.