Connecting State Funds With Local Transportation Projects

South Carolina’s gasoline tax, which funds the construction and repair of roads and bridges, sets aside a portion of its revenue for local transportation projects. This can be the improvement of state, county and municipal roads, for street and traffic signs, and for other related projects like sidewalks and drainage. This “C” Fund program operates as a partnership between South Carolina’s counties and the SC Department of Transportation, and it has been receiving more funding from the gas tax in recent years. 

The “C” Fund portion of the state gasoline tax was 2.66 cents per gallon before a new state law caused it to begin increasing annually for several years. In FY 2021-2022, when the new calculation of the tax is fully phased in, the portion will be 3.99 cents per gallon. The additional funds created by these increases can be used only for repairs, maintenance and improvements to the state highway system.

Who awards “C” Funds for projects? 
Responsibility for selecting and approving projects to be supported by “C” Funds falls to the County Transportation Committee found in each of the state’s counties. The CTCs develop procedures for accepting applications for eligible projects as well as ranking projects and determining which projects it will fund. State law does not mandate the process for how each CTC awards projects.

In most cases, the legislative delegation of a county appoints the CTC’s membership. However, in some cases, the county council serves as the county’s CTC. This is the case in Abbeville, Chester, Clarendon, Jasper, Lexington and York counties. In Allendale, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley and Dorchester counties, the county council appoints the members of the CTC.

Distributing “C” Funds
The “C” Fund program distributes funds to each county based on population, land area and rural road mileage. The program also allows for counties that contribute more to the “C” Fund than they collect to receive a donor bonus allocation.

For FY 2020-2021, the state is distributing a total amount of $104.2 million, up from $96.5 million in the previous year. Some of the counties with the highest apportionments during this time, not including the donor bonus, are Greenville County with $6 million, Richland County with $5 million and Horry County with $4.9 million.

Funding requirements for state roads
Beyond the requirement to spend funds from the increases that began in 2018 on state roads, CTCs are also required to spend a certain percentage of their total allotments on state roads. For FY 2020-2021, CTCs must use at least 27.3% of the county’s “C” Funds for construction, improvements and maintenance of infrastructure that is part of the state highway system. This percentage will rise to 33% for FY 2021-2022. 

Beyond those restrictions, CTCs can use the funds for local road projects. They may also carry forward any uncommitted funds from one year into the next, as long as the amount does not exceed 300% of the county’s total “C” Fund apportionment for the most recent year.

Learn more about the “C” Fund program at the SCDOT websiteThe webpage also includes links to the transportation plans for each of the counties.