Tuesday evening, the City of North Augusta will make a new pitch to the Aiken County Council. Mayor Lark Jones says the county, as a whole, stands to gain ccomodations, tax revenue, and 2,300 jobs. He says there is only one thing to lose. "The only thing they have to lose is...if they don't vote for it, none of that will happen," Jones says.
Last time, North Augusta was shut out by the Aiken County Council.
Council members say they did not have enough information. "I believe it's a good project, I would like to be able to support it, but I have to know Aiken County is protected," says Aiken County Councilwoman LaWana McKenzie.
The two biggest sticking points were whether tax values could be reset so that the county could collect taxes at current property values rather than 1996 values when a tax financing district, or TIF, was originally set, and therefore just forego future incremental tax revenue for the 30-year financing term.
"The increment in between brings money into the coffers immediately," says Aiken County Councilman Andrew Siders.
The other concern is whether the county could possibly be responsible for services for the area that exceed the revenue. "The county will not have to police, fire protect, water, sewer...all the services will be provided by the City of North Augusta," says Mayor Jones.
Some County Council members believe the new gameplan addresses their concerns. "They came back with a much more palatable plan," Siders says.
County Council members also say they see the potential for county-wide revenues...
"The more businesses we have in Aiken County, the less we have to go across the river," Siders says.
...without countywide risks...
"Anything that you do where you can't see the future is a risk...but North Augusta carries most of the risk. We're just giving up some things to help them make it work," McKenzie says.
That doesn't mean, however, that North Augusta has already knocked this one out of the park. "I truly do not know how I will vote tonight...unfair to have my mind made up before you even go in," McKenzie says.
That meeting starts at 7:00 p.m. at Aiken County Council Chambers.
As one Aiken County Council member mentioned, they haven't heard this new plan in its entirety before, so while they could vote for or against Project jackson, they could also table it for now.
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