Residents, councilmen discuss TIF's school district impact in public meetings

Harry Thomason, a Trimmier Place resident, brought Project Jackson into Monday's North Augusta City Council meeting, offering some questions about the proposed riverside development.

Thomason, speaking during the time offered in each meeting for public feedback, asked about how Aiken County's school district might fare financially under the proposed tax-increment financing. The Aiken County Council was to have discussed the meeting this week, in a Tuesday meeting. The Aiken County Board of Education is to vote on the matter March 12.

Mayor Lark Jones, responding to Thomas, said, "If things stay the same as they are right now, with the existing small TIF district that we have for four more years, over the next 30 years the school board would lose $167,000 ... That's if there is no development on the land down there."The chance of no development occurring is "very slim," he said.

"If the TIF is not amended, and we do the development in accordance with the agreement that we have now with a developer, the school board over 30 years would gain $1.053 million. If the TIF is adapted and runs the full 30 years, the school board over the 30-year period would receive $5.8 million ... They would be getting money every year from the improvements that are put down there. They wouldn't get the full amount, if there was no TIF, but they would be getting revenue."

If the bonds are paid off in 23 years, which the mayor described as "very, very feasible," the payoff would be $11 million in additional revenue over the course of 30 years.

Jones, when asked later about his data, noted, "Thereafter the school board would get $900,000 plus each year. Those figures are based on today's dollars and would increase with tax increases."

Thomason said that if Project Jackson is ultimately approved, he would like to see emphasis put on hiring construction workers with strong local ties, rather than bringing in hundreds of workers who will scatter far afield once the work is done.

In other Council business, Barbara Watson, the housekeeper at Riverview Park Activities Center, got a hat-tip, in recognition of her 16 years of service. She retired in February.

The relatively brief meeting also included unanimous, third-reading approval of two annexation requests: one for a .4-acre parcel at 6 Bradley Court and the other for a .47-acre tract at 819 Martintown Road.

Results of the 2012 municipal election were also approved, confirming Mayor Lark Jones, incumbent Pat Carpenter and newcomers Fletcher Dickert and David McGhee as the winners.