Public taxes may soon fund private roads

Horry County Council may revive ordinance that allows public maintenance on private roads
Horry County Council may revive ordinance that allows public maintenance on private roads

After years of complaints residents living along some of Horry County’s worst roads could soon see them repaired at taxpayer’s expense.

A proposed ordinance would allow for emergency road maintenance.

There are about 95 private roads in Horry County. Some are in such bad shape emergency vehicles can’t get to people living along them. That prompted the Horry County Council to revisit an old ordinance.

Lisa Bourcier, public information officer for the county gave the history behind the proposal.

“Back in the 90’s we had an ordinance where we would actually put public dollars on private roads for a one time emergency fix in order to get vehicles to a property if needing assistance,” she informed.

That ordinance was repealed in 2010 for being too costly. In just one year the county spent nearly 40,000 dollars on fixing private roads.

But, according to councilman Johnny Vaught, since that repeal council members have received numerous complaints.

“There’s a little old lady that lives down this road and she can’t…she doesn’t have anybody to help her get in and out and help her fix her road or anything like this, and she has a health condition that requires an ambulance to come get her every so often,” he explained. “And that is a problem, it’s something we should look out for.  But it gets expensive when everybody’s road gets to be that way.”

The new ordinance will have tighter restrictions on who qualifies for assistance. Those include, but aren’t limited to, the number of people using the road, what caused the damage, and whether emergency vehicles have access to the road. Because the roads are private there’s no allocated funding to repair them.

Another issue is “we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to pay for it,” said Vaught.

40 percent of the county’s roads are unpaved. Most of them are functioning fine. But rarely, usually in the western part of county someone needs help, and emergency crews can’t reach them.

“Hopefully,” Vaught said optimistically, “we can do some good things for some people.”

If the ordinance goes forward residents may be able to apply for Emergency Access Repair through public works, as soon as November.