Aiken County school board set for vote Tuesday on Project Jackson

 

A proposed $150 million development on the North Augusta riverfront hinges on a vote Tuesday by the Aiken County school board.

The board is scheduled to vote on a revised North Augusta Tax Incremental Financing, or TIF, district to fund the project for the next 30 years. Several months of negotiations led to an amended plan that would allow the school board to exit the TIF after 15 years and avoid using its money to fund construction of a baseball stadium.

North Augusta Administrator Todd Glover said the extra months of negotiations allowed project leaders to rework the proposal after concerns surfaced with funding methods for Project Jackson, which includes a stadium, parking deck and conference center near Hammond’s Ferry.

“We listened to what the school board had to say and incorporated that into the plan,” Glover said. “Hopefully, that will be enough to garner their support.”

In May, North Augusta city officials offered a new financial model to the school board. The model allows North Augusta to collect property taxes through the TIF district – meaning it would get tax revenue on the incremental difference between rising Aiken County property values and values frozen at 1996 levels for 30 years.

The previous plan counted on 20 percent of financing to come from the school board, while the amended plan calls for 11 percent.

School board member Ray Fleming said the amendment reflected the board’s requests, but he would not speculate on the outcome of Tuesday’s vote. He said discussions with city officials have been positive, adding that the board will take into consideration public opinion, which has been mixed on the issue.

“The board has been very diligent in looking at all aspects of this TIF,” Fleming said. “We’ve done our homework.”

Glover said Project Jackson faces an uphill battle if the school board denies the TIF. Moving forward to make the proposal a reality would be “very difficult” without the school board’s approval, he said.

Approval is also required from the Aiken County Council, which denied the original TIF proposal in March.

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