Sandy Senn wants Charleston County to get fair share of gas tax funds

Sandy Senn wants Charleston County to get fair share of gas tax funds
March 22 20:59 2017 Print This Article

State Senator Sandy Senn, who represents most of West Ashley and James Island and parts of Johns Island and Dorchester County, says that she will not support the proposed 12 cents per gallon fuels tax increase in the Senate unless the funding formula is changed to send more of the money to the populous counties with the highest road usage. Charleston County is classified as a Donor County because it collects much more in fuels taxes than it gets back.

The current state fuels tax rate is 16 cents per gallon. The allocation which goes to county governments for road maintenance, known as C-Funds, is about 17% of the total fuels tax receipts. The C-Funds formula gives a disproportionate amount to rural counties by putting an emphasis on road-miles over road usage and applying a premium to rural roads. Charleston County collected $5.7 Million in C-Funds money in 2014, the last year in which the South Carolina Dept. of Revenue has records available, and received only $2.96 Million in C-Funds allocations, the largest gap among the state’s 46 counties.

The SC House of Representatives passed legislation calling for a 10 cents per gallon increase the in fuels tax on Mar. 1.  Senn expects a heated battle within the Senate over its proposed 12 cents per gallon increase, which cleared the Finance Committee by a 14-7 margin.  Gov. Henry McMaster opposes the tax increase. Senn has expressed opposition to the Senate bill unless the C-Fund formula provides more bonus funding to Donor Counties like Charleston. “I don’t like taxes,” Senn said, “but I will be more supportive of the gas tax if we can channel more money locally.”

The House fuels tax bill passed by a 97-18 margin, which far exceeds the two-thirds margin needed to sustain a veto by Gov. McMaster. In the 46-seat Senate, there are currently two open seats, which means that only 15 votes would sustain a veto by McMaster. That makes Senn’s opposition to the current Senate measure critical in the upcoming floor debate.