Penny Sales Tax? 'Yes Please!' Says York Co
York County residents voted overwhelmingly yesterday to keep paying a 1-cent sales tax for road-building. The tax - known as Pennies for Progress - has raised nearly $500 million for road widening and improvement projects since 1997. York County residents and visitors who make purchases there will continue to fill those coffers for another seven years thanks to yesterday's vote. Phil Leazer directs the program and says York County has been careful to let people know how their money is being spent. "We have a customized sign that we make for each project that thanks the citizens of York County," says Leazer. "It says 'This particular project is funded by the Pennies for Progress program, a program that the citizens of York County own.' And we put that on that sign, we certainly do try to show them what their penny is accomplishing." Leazer says the penny sales tax has allowed road improvement projects to continue despite shortfalls in state transportation funding. Detractors have questioned cost overruns and delays that have plagued some of the projects. York County estimates the tax will raise another $160 million over the next seven years for dozens of road widening, paving and intersection priorities also approved by voters. State law prohibits the money from being used for road maintenance, however. York was the first county in South Carolina to impose a sales tax specifically for roads in 1997. Many others have since followed suit.