VOICES: What’s Lexington County’s “Penny for Progress” Campaign Really All About?

May 6, 2014

Inside Insight

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TALBERT BLACK’S FOLLOWING THE MONEY

We are fighting a $300 million sales tax increase in Lexington County. It’s slated to go on the ballot this November. They are calling it “A penny for progress.”

Grrr.

Three county council members are heading up the promotion of the sales tax: Bill Banning, Johnny Jeffcoat, and Debbie Summers. Several months ago, the council granted a no-bid contract to Alliance Engineering Consultants to manage the project selection process – that is, the process whereby the projects this $300 million dollar tax would fund are chosen.  The county paid Alliance $450,000 up front, whether the tax passes or not. So either way, Lexington County taxpayers are in the hole almost half a million dollars.

Alliance is the company that managed the selection process for Richland County’s sales tax increase. If the tax passes, Alliance is allowed to take up to 10 percent of the projects on themselves.

But here’s where it gets interesting. Deepal Eliatamby is the president of Alliance. He also sits on the board of SC Launch, a state-directed venture capital fund.

And he also maxed out campaign contributions to … guess who? Banning, Jeffcoat, and Summers. He maxed out twice to Banning.  Maybe that’s why Banning is the cheerleader-in-chief for the sales tax increase?