County Council will discuss Project Jackson today

  • Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:01 a.m.
    UPDATED: Tuesday, August 20, 2013 12:52 p.m.
Staff photo by Rob Novit
These North Augustans would later leave an Aiken County Board of Education meeting last week, pleased by the Board's agreement for a limited, but essential role in the City's major economic development plans. From, left are, Barry Glover, Mayor Larks Jones, finance director John Potter and City Administrator Todd Glover. Project Jackson is on tonight's Aiken County Council meeting agenda for discussion; however, there is no guarantee Council will vote on the issue. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
Staff photo by Rob Novit These North Augustans would later leave an Aiken County Board of Education meeting last week, pleased by the Board's agreement for a limited, but essential role in the City's major economic development plans. From, left are, Barry Glover, Mayor Larks Jones, finance director John Potter and City Administrator Todd Glover. Project Jackson is on tonight's Aiken County Council meeting agenda for discussion; however, there is no guarantee Council will vote on the issue. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Project Jackson is on tonight's Aiken County Council meeting agenda for discussion; however, there is no guarantee Council will vote on the issue.

While the highly debated item will be addressed by members of Council, there is no public hearing scheduled. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at 736 Richland Ave. W.

If granted, County Council's approval of participating in the amended North Augusta Tax Increment Financing plan would be the next step in moving the project forward.

Project Jackson is a multi-million dollar plan proposed for North Augusta that includes a conference center and a minor league baseball stadium.

In order to generate the needed revenue for its investment, North Augusta would collect on future property tax revenue over and above the frozen assessed value of property in the Tax Increment Financing district.

The Aiken County Board of Education and Aiken County already participate in the existing Tax Increment Financing district, which will be used to cover North Augusta's commitment to fund a portion of Project Jackson.

What North Augusta city officials are asking of Aiken County – and what the School Board approved last week – is agreeing to amend the financing mechanism.

The school district's participation includes utilizing the Tax Increment Financing on a 25-acre site and an agreement of a 15-year diversion – amended from 30 years – of tax revenue.

County Council is considering amending its share of the financing mechanism on 457 acres with a 30-year diversion of tax revenue.

Project Jackson was brought to Council in the spring, but it was turned down.

One issue that was a deciding factor for some Council members was the fact that the land values were frozen in 1996 when the existing Tax Increment Financing district was created. Council wanted the values to reflect 2012 levels.

In an email obtained by the Aiken Standard to County Council from North Augusta City Administrator Todd Glover, he writes that the City has done just that and adjusted the numbers to reflect 2012 rates.

“This means that the County will get all of the revenue from the growth that occurred in the TIF from 1996 to 2013, which will result in over $9.6 million in revenue back to the County general fund,” according to the email.

County Council Chairman Ronnie Young said on Friday that he hopes to have more information and is interested to see if Council's concerns from the spring were addressed.

Glover will give a presentation to Council today. River Club President Steve Donohue, who opposes the project, will also give a presentation.

Young added that he can't guarantee that Council will vote on the item tonight.

Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va.

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