Dear Chamber Members,
We are writing today to talk about an issue that is very important to the Greater Columbia Community – the upcoming vote on the “Special Sales and Use Tax”, more commonly referred to as the Transportation Penny. Since 2010, it has been our privilege to work with fellow citizens, business leaders and elected officials to develop a comprehensive transportation plan that will provide funding to address the growing concerns facing our transportation infrastructure and improve our community by providing more jobs, safer roads and local control.
The Transportation Penny, if approved by the voters on November 6th, will allow us to generate $1 billion over the next 22 years. The good news is that 42% of the funds will be generated from visitors who are non-residents that work, play and shop in Richland County.
Taking a closer look at what a “YES” vote for the Penny represents for the citizens of Richland County, the plan will provide:
- MORE JOBS – Over 16,000 short-term and long-term LOCAL jobs and billions in new investments. The long-term funding to maintain and improve our bus system will allow thousands of people in Richland County, including Fort Jackson, to get to work, get groceries and go to the doctor.
- SAFER ROADS – Richland County has second most dangerous roads in the state. Pedestrian improvements would help significantly; wider roads are safer roads. Improvements to our bus system will help free up our roadways.
- LOCAL CONTROL – Local leaders created the plan, local voters will approve the plan, local citizens will oversee the plan and local families will benefit from the plan.
While we may not all agree on every aspect of the plan, we can all agree that there is no doubt that this plan moves our community forward, puts us in a more competitive position and ensures a better future. Just the economics of the plan alone will bring great benefits to the county.
Harry Miley, Miley & Associates, conducted an independent economic impact of the proposed Richland County Transportation Plan and in addition to the above referenced benefits, he projects an estimated $28 million dollars a year in new property taxes within the first 10 years. Also, it is estimated that the average household will spend less than $100 more a year to support the plan and benefit from road enhancements which will reduce vehicle operating costs by an estimated $281 a year.
Our county officials, our city officials, our business community, our religious communities have all come together to say this is what we need to move us forward.
Imagine a NO vote – It would mean the STATUS QUO – It would be a major setback to the great progress that we have made in this community and the likely loss of our bus system. Image being the only capital city in America without a viable bus system – an bleak picture where employees cannot arrive at work to provide services at our local hospitals, hotels, restaurants and numerous places of business where we all frequent daily.
A NO vote will cost us more in the long run – The cost of deteriorating roads and increased fees will end up costing our families nearly twice as much as our Penny investment.
A NO vote will be a MAJOR LOSS – We don’t want to lose a chance to make our roads safer. We don’t want to lose our vital bus system. And we don’t want to lose control of this issue to the federal government.
We encourage you to review the Transportation Penny components and imagine the benefits of an improved roadway and bus system, improved roads, bike/pedestrian/greenways and new areas for economic development as a result of new roads along Shop Road and by the riverfront.
We also ask that you share information with your employees and ask them to review this critical issue and be prepared to vote “YES” to the last two questions on the November 6th ballot – the first question approves the “Special Sales and Use Tax” and the second question approves the funding for bonds. Please support this critical issue and help us move forward to provide more jobs, safer roads, and more local control.
Imagine what this one penny can do to improve your life, your family’s lives and future generations. A “YES” vote for the penny ensures a better standard of living for all of us – WE ALL BENEFIT. Thank you for all that you do for our community and for educating and advocating on behalf of the Transportation Penny.
Lee Bussell and Mike Brenan