Originally created 01/29/97

North Augusta officials refuses meeting with school board



AIKEN - North Augusta officials have declined meeting with the Aiken County School Board to discuss a special tax district that the school board is suing the city over.

"We saw no useful purpose in it while we're in litigation," North Augusta City Administrator Charles Martin said Tuesday.

A meeting is set for Feb. 4 to discuss forming a Tax-Increment Finance District, a 457-acre area that would allow tax revenue increases from improvements in the area to be set aside to pay for the upgrades.

Taxes paid to Aiken County and its school district would remain frozen in the proposed area at the current amount over the next 15 years. Any additional taxes garnered through improvements over that period would go to pay debt service on the bonds.

School board members have argued that children moving into the 600 planned residences in the area would get educations in the school system at the expense of other taxpayers. They have asked the city to reconsider its plan, which the city council passed in December, and reluctantly resorted to litigation, filing a lawsuit in the Aiken County Court of Common Pleas on Jan. 7.

Mayor Thomas Greene and other city officials, however, have maintained that they are operating within the confines of state law and have every right to form the district.

School board members were in executive session late Tuesday discussing the TIF district.