Project should be funded privately
The Dec. 20 edition of the Aiken Standard contained an announcement by the City of North Augusta about a proposed development along their riverfront. The proposed development would include a resort hotel, conference center, parking garage, city owned sports center, restaurants, retail stores, apartments and town homes. The City Manager claimed that the development would be self-supporting, but was vague on how the proposal would be paid for.
While this announcement makes for good press, of concern to the taxpayers should be how will it be paid for and how it will affect them.
One disturbing part of the story mentioned that the proposal would require the consent and cooperation of the Aiken County Council and Aiken County School Board. That brings up the ugly prospect of another Tax Increment Financing proposal. In 2005 the FineDeering Development Group tried to ram a TIF down the throats of the Aiken County taxpayers in order to develop two tracts of land north of Aiken. The TIF would have created a special district within the development and use the taxes collected within the district to pay off the TIF bonds leaving the rest of the taxpayers in Aiken County to support all of the services within the TIF district. This would effectively raise the rest of our taxes to support this districtís services. After a few free meals at some local golf clubs and some secret back room meetings some members of the Council and School Board seemed to be all for this bailout.
When word of the FineDeering proposal got out the opposition was overwhelming. A public hearing was held. Notable at the meeting was the overwhelming opposition to this special deal for FineDeering and the fact that all of the buildingís toilets backed up and overflowed during the meeting.
The school board had an independent study done which showed the adverse affect that the TIF proposal would have on school finances and they eventually voted against it, killing the deal.
If this project is worth doing it should be done with private funding without any increases in our Aiken County taxes. Letís not have a repeat of Tax Increment Financing for this project.