Augusta in the running for chemical manufacturer



Two decisions Monday would help keep Augusta in the running for a chemical manufacturing facility near Augusta Regional Airport, said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Development Authority of Richmond County.

Sprouse said reports that the manufacturer had already selected Augusta were incorrect.

“Our goal is to get on the short list,” he said. “Don’t get eliminated.”

Augusta is one of about six Southeast cities vying for the plant, which county documents say would employ 80-100 people. The investment would be $115 million.

Going before Augusta Planning Commission on Monday is a request by the William White Barrett Estate to rezone 135 acres at 1641 Dixon Airline Road from agricultural to heavy industrial, with a special exception for chemical manufacturing. Also up for approval is a request by First Bank of Georgia to rezone an adjoining 43.83 acres at 1895 Doug Barnard Parkway from light industry to heavy industry, with a special exception for chemical manufacturing.

The site is bounded by Doug Barnard Parkway, Dixon Airline Road, a Norfolk-Southern line and Butler Creek, and is near the Kellogg and Covidien facilities.

Most important to Augusta’s remaining on the “short list” is the Augusta Commission’s approval of the city’s third tax allocation
district at the site.

“If the TAD does not pass, we will probably not get the prospect,” Sprouse said.

Like the TAD encircling Augusta’s new Villages at Riverwalk shopping center, the new TAD allows governments to finance infrastructure improvements through bonds or other means using the increased property tax increments resulting from development at the site.

Augusta’s two existing TADs take up 9.57 percent of the tax digest, approaching the maximum of 10 percent allowed by Georgia law. The new TAD would occupy less than 0.01 percent of the current digest, according to a TAD proposal Sprouse had prepared for the commission by Atlanta law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge.

The Richmond County Board of Education will have the option to expend its portion of new property taxes collected at the site on redevelopment costs.

The TAD proposal goes before Augusta’s finance committee Monday. It would need approval by the commission and also requires a public hearing, scheduled for 11:45 a.m. Nov. 28, in the commission committee room at 530 Greene St.

Two other controversial items are on Monday’s 12:50 p.m. finance committee agenda.

The committee will revisit terms of a management agreement with Augusta Riverfront LLC for the new TEE Center parking deck and a lease of existing Marriott parking to the same firm.

The deck agreements put together by City Admin­istrator Fred Russell have prompted commission members to question why the city doesn’t own the land beneath the deck it just built, and whether the management proposal with Augusta Riverfront, which also will operate the TEE Center, couldn’t be better.

“How can we utilize our resources to benefit more than one entity?” Commis­sioner Matt Aitken said Friday. “It’s the city’s parking deck.”

Also up for approval Monday is a request by Commissioner Bill Lockett for an extensive forensic audit by an outside firm of all the city’s finances and contractual obligations, including its sales tax spending, the TEE agreements, Augusta Land Bank, privately run Augusta Municipal Golf Course and Augusta Public Transit, and special water deals being afforded certain golf courses.

Augusta Tax Allocation District 3 Redevelopment Plan