York County explores planning ahead for new roads

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMarch 6, 2014 

— York County leaders are exploring a way to save land for future roads.

Last week, York County Councilman Michael Johnson, a Tega Cay resident who represents much of the Fort Mill area, asked county staff and Council to consider a preservation ordinance that could help map future roadways. The ordinance would set rights-of-way and allow developers to plan around them.

“In areas, especially above the river, there’s only so much land left,” Johnson said. “A preservation ordinance would allow us to do an overlay, much like we do with Pennies for Progress, which would put developers on notice that we intend to put a road through there.”

The conversation was inspired by the most recent Rock Hill-Fort Mill Area Transportation Study meeting. There, Johnson said, planners set aside a quarter million dollars to study an east-west connector road, but as they started to spend the money, the property was sold and the landowner “was no longer going to allow” a road through the property. Pennies officials have said in the past that acquiring rights-of-way typically creates the most drag on major road projects.

A preservation ordinance, Johnson said, could help set aside property needed for roads quicker. Nothing else would change. Land acquisition and other matters related to getting the property would continue.

“We can actually plan ahead for the future,” Johnson said. “And if we don’t start planning where roads are going to go and how we’re going to move our citizens around in York County, we’re not going to be able to.”

Credit card fees

Also at its March 3 meeting, Council voted to petition its state legislative delegation in favor of the credit card payment system used in county offices. One state budgeting proposal would ban municipalities from charging a processing fee for credit card transactions.

“York County charges a fee to process a credit card because some of our citizens think it’s worth the extra money to be able to use a credit card,” said Councilman Chad Williams, whose district includes part of Fort Mill.

“Somehow, the statehouse thinks this is a money-maker, that we are making a bunch of money on this.”

York County uses PayPal for its transactions. The company charges 30 cents per transaction plus 1.9 percent for online transactions, 2.2 percent for in-house. Last year 13 percent of the more than 340,000 tax collections in the county were processed via credit card. PayPal collected about $203,000 last year in processing fees. Credit card transactions also take place in departments like utilities, landfill, animal control and planning. Those transactions amount to about $20,000 annually.

Council Chairman Britt Blackwell said residents may want to use credit cards for perks associated with those cards, or just because they find it easier. There are other options that don’t require the fee.

“It’s just done for the convenience of the person,” Blackwell said. “You can still just write a check and mail it in.”

Council members say everyone will pay more if the county has to eat the cost of allowing credit card processing – the state proposal would require municipalities to keep the service.

“We are protecting the tax base as a whole by keeping this user fee,” Williams said.

Most people don’t use a credit card now, about 87 percent of transactions. But more residents may if the fee went away, council members said..

Williams said it may be cheaper to pay whatever fine would come with the new rule than to eliminate the processing fee.

“Hopefully we’ll never get to that,” Williams said.

John Marks•  803-547-2353

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