Beaufort County sales tax increase goes into effect Wednesday

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – Some roads, bridges, and sidewalks in Beaufort County will soon be getting an upgrade thanks to an additional penny you’ll have to pay soon.

The 1% Transportation Sales Tax that voters approved during November’s election goes into effect on bills Wednesday.

That means you will now pay $0.07 sales tax for every dollar you spend. There will also be a 1% increase in the County Accommodations Tax, raising that to 8%.

The money will only go toward specific transportation projects in the county.

“It includes improvements to Hilton Head Island and 278 traffic improvement and it also includes some projects for Lady’s Island and sidewalks and multi-use pathways included,” said Media Manager Bonnie Swingle at the SC Revenue Department.

To be more specific, the projects include $80 million for the Hilton Head Island U.S. 278 corridor. The project replaces at least one span of the Hilton Head Bridge and aims to alleviate traffic congestion between Bluffton and Hilton Head.

The total cost of that project is $240 million: $80 million from the penny sales tax and $40 million from the SC Department of Transportation. For the other $120 million, Beaufort County would have to apply for from the State Infrastructure Bank — meaning the county would compete for that money with other counties statewide.

$30 million will be allocated for traffic lights and improved traffic flow on Lady’s Island. The project would affect the area between the Woods Memorial Bridge and the Chowan Creek Bridge.

The other $10 million goes toward county-wide sidewalk and pathway improvements. Included in this project are Burnt Church Road in Bluffton, Laurel Bay Road in Beaufort and 22 other spots.

Beaufort County added the transportation tax penny once before in 2008-2012. The good news for voters, and everyone else this time, there is a dollar and a time limit on this tax.

“It will end in four years or whenever the tax will generate $120 million. Whichever comes first,” said Swingle.

Currently, Beaufort County is one of five in the state that has added the penny transportation tax to their coffers.

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