COLUMBIA - Taxpayers shouldn't be left holding the bill for a tax increment financing district their local government approved but cannot afford, according to state Rep. Skipper Perry, R-Aiken.
Therefore, in the wake of last fall's FineDeering dispute in Aiken, Mr. Perry plans to sponsor legislation to require that local governments considering creating a TIF district to boost development first must get an independent financial analysis.
Not everyone likes his proposal.
Under a TIF district agreement, a municipality sells bonds to pay for infrastructure, such as roads, to make an area of the city or county more attractive to developers.
Revenue from the newly developed property then is used to pay off the bonds.
The developer gets the benefit of infrastructure, but the government has to pay back the bonds regardless of how well the proposed development goes, Mr. Perry said.
"You're giving (a developer) all this money up front, so he's got no risk," he said.
Mr. Perry says that local governments should have to independently determine their financial risk before entering into a TIF district agreement.
Last fall, the issue came to a head in Aiken after lawmakers passed a TIF district law in spring 2005.
The new law, in part, expanded the definition of the kinds of land that could be considered for inclusion in a TIF district.
Critics of that law - including Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken - say the definition is so expansive that it encompasses almost all land.
Mr. Ryberg tried unsuccessfully to undo the law last spring.
The new law immediately led to problems in Aiken, when FineDeering asked the county to create a TIF district to build roads and provide water and sewer systems for a new FineDeering development near Graniteville..