Coastal Conservation League files lawsuit over I-526 extension contract

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Coastal Conservation League has filed a lawsuit against Charleston County and the State Infrastructure Bank over the funding contract to finish I-526.

The suit centers around how Charleston County plans to fund the extension with funding from previous half-cent sales tax referendums passed in 2004 and 2016. The Coastal Conservation League claims that in 2016, I-526 was not listed in the ordinance Charleston County Council approved to put the sales tax referendum on the ballot.

Under the current terms of the contract which are still being worked out. The total cost of the project is $720 million with the state infrastructure bank paying for $420 million and Charleston County paying for $300 million.

“It’s simple. Voters in Charleston County were asked to approve funding for specific projects. I-526 wasn’t one of them,” Conservation League Executive Director Laura Cantral said. “We’re stepping in to hold elected officials accountable and protect taxpayers. Charleston County should not be allowed to disenfranchise its own voters.”

The conservation league asserts that Charleston County is "breaking its contract with voters by obligating that the 2016 sales tax be used to fund the extension.

The league is asking that a judge declare that the county can’t use the sales tax to fund the project.

Charleston Countyapproved the use of the sales taxback in February and continued to try andconvince a subcommittee in April that it could comfortablyuse the sales tax to fund the project.

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