State sitting on millions in gas tax dollars
By RICK BRUNDRETT
Special to the Chronicle
Gas and car sales taxes may be down but gas-tax-hike dollars are growing.
During the government-ordered shutdown, most major paving projects went unfinished, state records show.
Through April 30, the state collected $1.2 billion under the law.
That could cover nearly 90% of the estimated road repair costs statewide, according to Department of Transportation records.
Yet the total dollars spent completed paving was less than 43% of the overall estimated $921.1 million cost of all projects.
And the 3,422 miles of roads DOT picked for repairs represent just over 10% of the state-maintained roads that the agency says needs to be repaved or rebuilt.
DOT has invested more than $111 million in road repairs in 18 counties, accordng to their latest figures, none of it in Lexington County.
31 counties had completion rates lower than 50%, including the larger counties of Greenville (49.8%), Richland (47.1%), Lexington (45.3%), Horry (29.8%) and Charleston (29.1%).
A pecial state fund created with the gas-tax-hike law had a surplus of more than $570 million as of the end of April.
That's a growth of about 3.7% from March 31, which represented more than 47% of total collected revenue.
The $570.1 million surplus was nearly $43.5 million larger than the total amount of vendor payments for completed work.
The gas-tax-hike law raised the state gas tax 12 cents over 6 years and increased other vehicle taxes and fees.
Lawmakers promised the money would go to fixing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. But as we have repeatedly pointed out, DOT has completed few major projects statewide since the law took effect July 1, 2017.
Another 2-cent hike is set for July 1.