SUMMERVILLE, S.C. - A campaign launched today to help pass an upcoming ballot referendum to fix the roads and preserve open space in Dorchester County today.
The group - Dorchester Citizens for Responsible Growth - is organized by the same people who successfully passed a ballot referendum in 2019 to build parks and libraries.
“We have assembled a broad coalition of folks who understand the most important issues facing our county are fixing our roads and preserving green space. This includes retirees to commuters, business owners, to conservationists and community leaders from every community in Dorchester County. We are all uniting around the common purpose of improving the quality of life of the county we love,” said Tony Pope, one of the group’s organizers.
Dorchester County Council has placed a referendum on the November 8 ballot to continue the existing one-cent sales tax dedicated to roads. This new initiative would be a continuation when the current special assessment retires in 2024 and then, would begin on May 1, 2024. This is not an increase of local tax - merely a continuation of the current sales tax dedicated to road funding.
The current tax would expire April 30, 2024. Dorchester County voters passed the current road levy in 2004 and the county has built, re-paved, and fixed more than 20 road projects with the current initiative.
“We know the two biggest issues in the county are fixing our roads and preserving open space. Both of these are monumentally important to how we manage growth in Dorchester County. Community members have pressed us to do these two things, and this is our opportunity,” said Bill Hearn, chairman of Dorchester County Council.
The group announced the support of mayors across Dorchester County for the initiative: North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, Summerville Mayor Ricky Waring, Ridgeville Mayor Clarence Hughes, Harleyville Mayor Charles Ackerman, and St. George Mayor Kevin Hart.
Additionally, support was announced from the Greater Summerville/Dorchester County Chamber of Commerce and conservation groups - the Lowcountry Land Trust, the Trust for Public Land, Lord Berkeley Land Trust., the Nature Conservancy, and the Conservation Voters of South Carolina.
“The greenbelt provision of this proposal will ensure that we leave a lasting legacy for future generations of people who will call Dorchester County home. It’s clear to all who know and love the Lowcountry that we are now growing at a rate beyond imagination. In this digital age, and with development happening all around us, now is the time to ensure that we enhance our quality of life by creating access to nature so our children and grandchildren can enjoy the outdoors the same way we do,” said Ashley Demosthenes, President and CEO of Lowcountry Land Trust
“Whether it’s protecting our drinking water sources and the Ashley and Edisto Rivers, saving important wildlife, or saving natural corridors between important destinations for trails and open space, these funds will create new opportunities that don’t exist today,” Demosthenes added.