When SC House Representative Neal Collins began his town hall meeting on July 25th he talked about state level issues then transitioned to roads in Pickens County. He talked about a local sales tax as a way to pay for road maintenance, using Horry County as an example. Horry County has more than double the population of Pickens County, and they have tourism at Myrtle Beach. Of course their local tax brings in impressive amounts of revenue, especially from tourists visiting that county. One might ask why we should want to pay an extra tax locally when we are now experiencing automatic biannual gas tax increases that are supposed to be fixing our roads.
Collins emphasized that never in the history of the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) had Pickens County ever applied for funds until after the current county council was elected in 2016, citing that the county never had the matching funds nor did the leadership have the vision. What Collins purposely left out was that the previous council never could apply for those funds if they wanted to. There was no problem with vision. State law stood in the way, and Collins knew it.
Through June of 2016 the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank could not fund a project with a cost less than $100,000,000.00. Counties are required to put up 25% of the money for a project when applying for STIB funds. Our county budget is around $60,000,000.00. There was no way the majority of counties in this state could have afforded to apply for STIB funds. Collins knew this. In 2016 he voted for the bill (S. 1258) that lowered the project amount necessary for STIB funding to $25,000,000.00. That was the first time Pickens County could have afforded to apply for the money.
It is disingenuous to imply the previous county council lineup did not want to seek STIB funding. The Pickens County Taxpayers Association had asked for changes in STIB funding. Collins should not have assumed his audience was uninformed.