In This Edition: South Carolina’s unemployment rate hits a record low 2.9%. … New Senate subcommittee wants faster path to wider interstates than what new gas tax allows … Charleston’s Hurricane Dorian debris cleanup is nearing twice as big as Matthew’s. … Candidate for Charleston City Council blames accountant for $1M IRS lien.
The South Carolina unemployment rate was 2.9% in September, the first time it has dropped below 3%. It was 3.2% in August, and September’s national unemployment rate was 3.5%. A record 2,311,479 residents are working, according to the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce, up more than 60,000 from 12 months earlier. The number does reflect an end to eight straight months of growth for the estimated labor force of those working plus those unemployed looking for work; it fell by 1,557 from August. Charleston County’s unemployment was at 1.4% in a month where the rate decreased across all of the state’s 46 counties. (Columbia Regional Business Report)
A newly formed Senate subcommittee on interstate widening talked about ways to raise revenue beyond the 2017 gas tax to fix “critical pinch points” of traffic, while also grasping that money can’t fix the fact that such plans take many years to map out. A widening project for the state’s most congested stretch of interstate that is projected to be the costliest road project in state history, covering I-526 and the I-26 lanes to Summerville, is still only in the planning stages. Contracts to rescue the Columbia area’s “Malfunction Junction” have yet to be awarded, and decade-long construction plans are too far down the road to alleviate current coastal traffic. Far from the top of the priority list is the widening of I-95 at the Georgia boarder despite that four northbound lanes become two at a corridor essential to evacuation paths during hurricane season. (Post and Courier)
While 2016’s Hurricane Matthew caused 380,000 cubic yards of debris, the city of Charleston said it has picked up more than 600,000 cubic yards of trash and tree branches from when Dorian brushed the coastline in September. In order to be awarded relief money from FEMA, which typically pays at least 75% of the coast of debris collection and disposal, the city assigned 18 employees who usually are engaged in parking enforcement or clerk duties to assess the cleanup, city officials said. (Associated Press)
Angela Black Drake, who is campaigning for a Charleston City Council District 1 seat in the Nov. 5 election, owes $984,306.64 to the IRS for outstanding federal tax liens for her Daniel Island real estate business, according to Charleston County records. Drake told Charleston-area media that the bill was a “big surprise” when she found out more than a year ago that the money she paid her accountant, who was not identified in media reports, was not going to the IRS. “I had hired an accountant to take care of my tax returns. At one point, I found out that those returns had not been filed,” Drake told WCBD-TV, and that she has since switched accountants and hired a tax lawyer. (Post and Courier)
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
“We can’t wait until 2040 or 2050 to deal with (South Carolina’s inadequate roads). We as a state have got to determine how we address the catastrophic needs we have now, or we’ll be left behind the rest of the Southeast. We’ve got to try to figure out how do we move faster. … I don’t think people realize the magnitude or the time it takes to address it.”
Nikki Setzler, Senate Minority Leader and co-chairman of a newly formed subcommittee on interstate widening, at the panel’s inaugural meeting