Beaufort County Referendum Seeks Funding For Roads and Walkways

By Anthony SanFilippo

Update (Nov. 7, 2018): Voters in Beaufort County, S.C. decided to approve the Penny Tax referendum by 58-42, which was a decisive victory. Stand by for more updates on what this will mean for your community. Sign up for updates.

Roads in Beaufort County are traffic bottlenecks making it difficult for residents to get to and from work or even just get around town. Even Beaufort County vacationers are finding themselves trapped in snarled traffic, often on bridges and roadways not built to accommodate the increase in vehicles on the road today.

Beaufort County’s latest tax proposal is a ballot referendum based on common sense and seeks to help rectify these traffic-related problems.

After failing to pass a penny tax increase in 2016, the County proposed a one percent sales tax increase again this year, but with a much-needed caveat – the tax will go away after four years, or upon raising $120 million in revenue, whichever happens first.

In addition, the proposal requires all tax revenue to go toward the repair and installation of roads, bridges and sidewalks in Beaufort County. This guarantees that local tax revenue does, in fact, stay local and improve the Beaufort County Community.

Three specific projects the tax revenue will fund are:

  • Hilton Head Island – $80 million will be spent to make traffic improvements to the U.S. 278 corridor. The improvements include repairing and replacing existing spans of bridges leading to and from Hilton Head Island as well as road improvements between Moss Creek Drive and Squire Pope Road.
  • Lady Island – $30 million will be earmarked for traffic improvements, specifically to improve the roadways between the Woods Memorial Bridge and the Chowan Creek Bridge.
  • Beaufort County –$10 million will be used for sidewalk and multi-use pathway improvements across the County. County Council has identified 24 locations that, with improvements, would help provide safe walking routes to schools and improved access to residential communities.

Of the $120 million raised in additional revenue, roughly $48 million – or 40 percent – will be borne by Beaufort County tourists and visitors whenever they make local, taxable purchases. This shared tax burden will make it easier on Beaufort County residents who will ultimately reap the benefits of the additional tax revenue in the form of improved traffic and faster access to and from Hilton Head and Lady’s Island.

A poll conducted in July by American Strategies showed that 63 percent of likely voters in Beaufort County supports the referendum, with an even greater number (68 percent) agreeing that sidewalk repairs across the county is a significant infrastructure need.

By voting yes on the referendum, Beaufort County voters will be investing in their future.  Not only will residents directly benefit from the proposed infrastructure improvements, but they will also reap the tangential benefit of increased tourism in the years to come.


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