Although extending the Tax Incremental Financing district was approved for North Augusta’s Project Jackson by the Aiken County School Board and Aiken County Council, those decisions carry financial and community risks for a long time.
Residents of the county feel deprived due to not having a voice in the decisions and are concerned about the lengthy commitment and diversion of revenues from schools and public services.
Project Jackson will not be a public asset, such as a community park, library or hospital, but rather a commercial real estate development.
Public/private investment in real estate is a mistake, but seems on the way to happen. Auditing the expenditures and revenues to assure efficiency and honesty for both public and private interests will be a costly 30-year challenge.
Where are the contracts specifying the terms and conditions that will assure integrity in this project?
Will the quality of life in Aiken County be better or worse?
Not everyone wants to change the area, and sometimes projects to increase the tax base can have bad results.
The Board and Council ignored the fact that Project Jackson does not meet the legal requirements for a TIF: the land is not a blighted area.
While we hope for the best outcome going forward, there is great competition for our public resources, and it seems likely that if put to a vote by residents, the project would not be approved.