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Richland County ordered to give $15M back to road fund

July 21, 2021 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Richland County agreed Wednesday to put more than $15 million back into a sales tax fund for roads after South Carolina tax collectors said they spent the money on project managers and public relations and not on asphalt.

The county announced the settlement with the Department of Revenue in a statement. The agency originally ordered the county to pay back $32 million.

Richland County will take $15.5 million from its general fund and put back in the account where they keep the money from the 1% sales tax passed in 2012 to improve roads throughout the county.

“County officials view the settlement as an opportunity for taxpayers to reestablish confidence in the program that voters approved nine years ago to fund infrastructure improvements,” according to the statement from county officials.

The Revenue Department said the county improperly spent the sales tax money on public relations and project managers which included things for them like coffee and cars.

Richland County has since taken management of the penny tax program back in house.

The county also had to pare down the list of roads to expand and build by more than $150 million after cost overruns.