AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) — The Aiken Municipal Development Commission making it’s position known when it comes to settlement money headed in our area. The group submitted a proposal to City and state leaders about what they would like to see come from the windfall.
“We encourage the state delegation, our delegation, the Aiken delegation to get behind these projects and support this,” Keith Wood told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
Wood is the Chairman of the Aiken Municipal Development Commission, the advisory group that makes recommendations on development in Aiken. After discussions, their suggestions are passed to the City Council. Now the group is putting its feet to the pavement, researching what the $600 million settlement agreement between the state and the DOE should be used for.
Their recommendations focus on innovation, infrastructure, and redevelopment/investment. “The rationale behind the letter now is because we know that the South Carolina General Assembly will be making decisions in the January timeframe as they start to work on the budget. So decisions will be made in the spring timeframe as to how those monies are going to be allocated. So the timing is perfect,” he said.
The plan would include completing projects U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative and South Carolina National Guard Cyber Security DreamPort, continuation of the widening of University Parkway and Whiskey Road Corridor, and also bringing in more development in several parts of the City. “We think with the Advanced Manufacturing Collaborative that just would be a seed area for innovation, for growth for future businesses, future research collaboration with the Department of Energy, the Savannah River National lab to bring in entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, students alike to grow that area,” Wood added.
Recently the group said the settlement money should be awarded to Aiken, Barnwell, and Allendale Counties. In two separate interviews with Shawn state leaders like Governor Henry McMaster and Attorney General Alan Wilson also agreed. “It would really be a shame if our General Assembly starts making decisions to move those funds to other areas of the state, whether it’s Myrtle Beach, whether it’s Greenville, whether it’s Charleston, whatever that may be, because they have no impact. They have no association with this federal oversight, it’s all our community,” Wood said.
Meanwhile, the recommendations add up to more than 95 million. We’ve learned some of the projects are already partially funded.
When Shawn asked city leaders whether City Council’s discussions were in line with what the Development Commission suggested, City Manager Stuart Bedenbaugh said it is. “I think their list is one that is parallel and non-contradictory at all to the City Council’s goals or aspirations, he added.
It maybe some time before we see any movement. The General Assembly will be making decisions between the Governor’s budget, the House Ways and Means Committee and their recommendation on the budget, and Senate finance committee. We’ve learned the process will start through deliberation with the General Assembly kicking off in January. The group will then start debating and delivering the budget which could be as early as January, February timeframe, or as late as the June.
A full breakdown of the proposal including dollar amounts and how much funds have already be set aside for completion of these projects can be found, here.