Class action lawsuit filed over Horry County road maintenance fee

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A class action lawsuit was filed Friday over Horry County’s road maintenance fee, seeking refunds for “all unlawfully charged road fees,” according to the lawsuit obtained by News13.

Horry County charges $50 per year per registered vehicle in the county. In fiscal year 2021, the county collected $17,741,915 from the fee.

A portion of the money is shared with municipalities in the county. The money goes toward maintenance work like repaving roads, installing or replacing sidewalks and filling in potholes.

The lawsuit claims that the county residents paying the fee don’t get extra benefits compared to the people in the general public who don’t pay the fee.

In June, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the “road maintenance fee” charged by Greenville County was unconstitutional. The lawsuit claims the fee in Horry County is identical, and should also be considered unlawful.

“By charging and collecting the unlawful Road Fees, and adopting Ordinances authorizing the Road Fees, Defendants acted outside the scope of legitimate objectives permitted for counties and their departments in South Carolina, exercised powers contrary to law, as well as the public policy, and charged fees which were unduly oppressively to Plaintiffs and the Class, and deprived Plaintiff and the Class of their property in violation of the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit claims that Horry County was aware of the South Carolina Supreme Court ruling but have not given any refunds.

Horry County’s road maintenance fee has been in place since 1987. It was affirmed by the state Supreme Court in 1992. After the ruling against Greenville County, Horry County is cautiously moving forward, Angie Jones, the county’s treasurer, told News13 in July.

Jones told News13 in July that the county is still collecting the money, but keeping it in a separate account and not distributing any of it until the county has answers.

A spokesperson for Horry County said the county does not comment on pending litigation.

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