South Carolina taxpayer suing to recover road fees ruled unconstitutional’

State - Regional

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – What a judge has ruled as an unconstitutional fee in Greenville County is no more. Now, however, the battle some Greenville County taxpayers face is getting their money back.

You could say David McAlhany knows the roads that weave in and out of Greenville County pretty well.

“I worked a good 26 years here in Greenville County, riding the roads here,” said Greenville County resident David McAlhany.

Other than spending a lot of time on them during his career, he also puts in a lot of miles on his bike. But during all that traveling, one thing he said has only gotten worse: the roads.

“The roads are a lot more populated and a lot more dangerous, especially riding a motorcycle,” McAlhany said.

He’s one of the many county residents who have been stuck for years paying a $25 road maintenance fee.

That fee is now gone after a judge ruled it unconstitutional, saying it was a tax disguised as a fee. But the battle for some taxpayers is just beginning.

“I’ve talked to the man who has filed that lawsuit and what he wants to see is county council to vote for the people to get their money back,” Greenville County Councilman Joe Dill said.

Dill wants to refund those fees to taxpayers. But some other county leaders have voted against it, twice now.

“Four years ago, I felt like it was wrong then. The judge ruled it was wrong and I just feel like we need to go back to square one and start all over,” Dill said.

That’s why one Upstate taxpayer is suing the county. His attorney sent us the following statement on the lawsuit:

“A Greenville County taxpayer has sued the county to recover, for himself and others, fees that the South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled that the county had charged illegally. Greenville County has in recent years collected an estimated $30 million from taxpayers by charging improper road maintenance and telecommunications fees. On June 30, the state Supreme Court declared the county ordinances establishing those fees to have been passed by the county council in contravention of state law.

Despite the court’s finding, and the apparent recognition by the council that the fees constituted an
unlawful tax, the Greenville County Council has twice voted not to return the money to taxpayers.

Taxpayer Jerry A. Bruce is suing in Greenville County Common Pleas to have the fees returned to him and all others in the county who have paid the illegal fees – plus statutory damages amounting to 10
times the total. Mr. Bruce is represented by David Price and Sam Tooker of David Price, Jr., PA and Terry
E. Richardson, Jr., Brady R. Thomas, and Will Lewis of Richardson Thomas.”

7NEWS brought questions about this lawsuit to Greenville County leaders but they told us they do not comment on pending lawsuits.

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