I am opposed to using our tax dollars to fund Project Jackson for four reasons.
First, the intent of tax increment financing is to use tax dollars for redevelopment of a blighted area. Years ago, the area where Project Jackson is located originally met that criteria, but with $500,000 homes in the area, the criteria is no longer met. If the TIF is approved, it will probably be met with costly legal challenges.
Second, the proponents of the TIF say Project Jackson is dependent on the school board’s monetary participation, which would account for approximately 11 percent of the total project funding. I am dubious of this claim. If the project is as sound as is claimed, then private investment funds should be readily available and commercial interest rates, at this time, are very low.
Third, if the project is such a good deal, the school board does not have to put our tax dollars at risk. The amount of tax revenue will be the same with or without funding from the school board (i.e., the project will be built regardless).
Fourth, Project Jackson is a plan that will duplicate what exists right across the Savannah River. What has been the success of the restaurants, condominiums and the hotel/conference center at Riverwalk in Augusta? I would say it has not been very good. Yet we want to build a complex to compete with the Riverwalk, and, most likely, we will split the revenue between the two.
The bottom line is that the school board should be involved in educating our youth, not funding private development.