Richland County Council to Hold a Public Hearing July 9 on the Proposed Transportation Penny Referendum

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Richland County residents are invited to share comments about the proposed Transportation Penny Referendum during a public hearing at County Council’s July 9 meeting. The referendum must pass three readings before it can be included on the November General Election ballot. A third reading is scheduled for July 16.

In October 2023, Council approved a resolution authorizing County staff to prepare for a Transportation Sales Tax referendum. Council passed a first reading of the referendum on April 9 and a second reading on May 14.

The projected revenue from a potential new Penny collected over 25 years or until the maximum revenue is received, whichever comes first, is estimated at $4.5 billion. During the second reading, Council voted to allocate 50% to County advancement projects, 30% to community investment projects, and 20% to Comet-related enhancements. The motion also included a minimum of $20 million for each Council district that could be spent on advancement or investment projects.

“It is important for residents to understand that the vote is not yet final, and we want to hear from our constituents about transportation needs in their respective communities,” said Richland County Council Chairwoman Jesica Mackey, District 9. “We understand the frustrations of the first Penny, and my colleagues and I are committed to full transparency in this process. We have and will continue to be
diligent in our efforts.”

The current Penny program, a one-percent sales tax that was approved by voters in 2012 has, to date, funded over $700 million of $1.07 billion projects in Richland County, for road improvements, sidewalks,
and greenways, as well as the Midlands public transportation system, The COMET. Over 120 miles of roads have been resurfaced, 85 dirt roads have been paved, and eleven new intersections have been constructed.

Additionally, the Penny has been instrumental in creating more than 6,500 employment opportunities and has contributed an estimated $400 million in wages to workers across the County, which has played a significant role in improving the overall standard of living. Over the last decade, there has been over $4.7 billion in new economic investment, which has led to a sixty percent decrease in unemployment rates, 20,000 new jobs, and 4,000 new businesses.

Mackey adds that the Penny program has afforded the County opportunities to make significant improvements to infrastructure which otherwise may not have been possible – paving the way for economic development and job creation. “Richland County residents have benefited from increased mobility, safer roadways, and overall higher quality of life as a result of their investment in the community. I applaud this Council for their commitment to this program and their transparency as we navigate its trials and successes,” Mackey said.

Residents who cannot attend the July 9 public hearing but would like to have their voices heard may email comments to to be included in the record. The deadline to submit written comments is 5 p.m. July 5.

Additional information about the Transportation Penny including current projects and future plans, as well as recordings of public meetings can be found on the Penny website. Residents may also sign up for the Penny Tax newsletter and request a speaker by visiting the website.