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City eligible for tax credits toward sports complex

Posted: January 20, 2012 8:41 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2012 5:00 a.m.

The city of Camden has received good news regarding financing for its proposed sports complex.

Based on its establishment in October of a tax incremental financing (TIF) district for improvement of approximately 127 acres in the West DeKalb Street area, the city became eligible to apply for -- and received confirmation Thursday of its qualifying for -- new markets tax credits to help in construction of the complex.

Camden Mayor Jeffrey Graham said the city would be eligible to receive 22 percent funding of the total $5 to $6 million sports facility project, which translates to $1 to $1.5 million. The city plans to use proceeds from its hospitality tax to fund construction of the facility.

“This would take the cost of the complex down to the $4 to $4.5 million mark and the part the city would actually be financing with hospitality tax would be less,” Graham said. “This money doesn’t have to be repaid, so there are no economic effects by taking this credit.”

New markets tax credits are available to taxpayers and the private sector to encourage revitalization and foster a positive influence on businesses a designated district, Graham explained.

Under the TIF, the city plans to use current tax assessments on properties within the area as a baseline. Any future taxes generated above that benchmark will be “peeled off” into a special TIF fund to be used to help pay for redevelopment within the area.

One of the anchors of the improvement plan is the construction of the proposed sports complex on the former Boylan-Haven-Mather Academy grounds that may be run by the YMCA of Columbia.

Graham said receiving word that the city qualifies for the tax credits is a positive sign.

“Banks have to think you are financially solid in order to qualify, and you have to meet Census qualifications,” he said. “You have to meet certain guidelines to even be at the table.”

The city’s acceptance of the tax credits, Graham said, could be affected by legal actions taken by several citizens and citizens’ groups who seek a referendum on the use of hospitality tax for the sports complex.

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