AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – Since 2017, taxpayers in Aiken have paid an additional $20 for every car they own.
The city’s manager, Stuart Bedenbaugh, recalled, “There was a lot of concern back in the mid-2010s about our roads, stormwater, sewer etcetera.”
Bedenbaugh reports under the fee, the city would collect about 500 grand a year.
He said, “We’ve spent a fair amount of the funds on road paving, purchase of equipment to assist with road maintenance.”
Now city council members are unanimously revoking the road maintenance fee. The vote was made Monday.
“Anyone that’s paid the fee from July 1, 2021, forward, that has paid their car taxes in July and August, would be refunded their money,” explained Bedenbaugh.
The fee repeal in Aiken comes after the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled in June a similar fee in Greenville was unconstitutional. Aiken’s leaders were advised by the city attorney to get rid of theirs.
“It was viewed as a tax and there are only certain types of taxes, it’s very clear in state law and in the state constitution that local governments have the authority to tax folks with and this is not one of those methods or constitutional methods,” said Bedenbaugh.
American Rescue funds cannot be used to replace the monies that would be collected with the road maintenance fee. Bedenbaugh added the city is working on a plan to bring before council for the replacement, but nothing is set in stone yet.