COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments challenging whether counties can be forced to pick up part of the tab for the first-in-the-South Republican presidential primary.

The court has arguments slated for a hearing Monday after Beaufort, Chester, Greenville and Spartanburg counties sued the state Election Commission and Republican and Democratic parties. The counties say the state lacks the authority to conduct a primary and cannot force the counties to spend taxpayer money on what they described as private event.

Democrats have no plans for a presidential primary this year.

Attorney General Alan Wilson has said the state granted the authority to the commission run the Jan. 21 primary.

Counties offered to settle the litigation if $2.5 million was set aside to cover costs but that was rejected.