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KCC considers bonds for economic development

Posted: August 13, 2015 5:33 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Kershaw County Council is considering issuing general obligation bonds to fund economic development projects, but details of any projects and expected costs have yet to be determined. The issue was a major topic of discussion at council’s meeting Tuesday.

The matter appeared on the meeting agenda for the first of three required readings. Council Chairman Julian Burns said the issue involved contractual and legal matters warranting a closed-door executive session and asked for a motion to enter such a session. Councilman Dennis Arledge made the motion, which was seconded by Councilman C.R. Miles. Councilman Jimmy Jones, however, said he was opposed to moving ahead, saying he felt council was “moving too fast” without having details of what they were considering.

“I had no intention of making a vote tonight on something of such a magnitude, because I think we could be looking at a possible 15-plus million dollars on this,” Jones said. “The taxpayers are going to have to pay these general obligation bonds. I think everybody who votes for this on this council ought to audition for ‘Fast and Furious,’ the movie. We’re moving at a speed that I just can’t get my hands on. We need to slow down.”

Council voted 6-1 to enter into the executive session, with Jones voting no and refusing to join the other councilmen. Ray Jones and Mark Simmons, both of the Parker Poe law firm; Kershaw County Deputy Administrator Alan Trapp; County Administrator Vic Carpenter; County Attorney Ken DuBose; and Economic Development Director Peggy McLean also joined the session which lasted approximately one hour.

When council returned to the open meeting, Jones again said his position is he and the public should be better informed on such matters before they go to a vote.

“I would like the public to know more about what we’re doing before we vote on these general obligation bonds. Once we put it out in the open and the public understands thoroughly what we’re doing, I may be more inclined to cast my vote another way,” Jones said.

Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. made a motion to direct Carpenter and county staff to prepare a detailed report of various economic development infrastructure plans and what each could cost so council will have more specific choices to consider. Council will discuss those plans at its next meeting, Aug. 25, but will not vote on second reading then. Tucker’s motion passed 4-3 with Tucker, Arledge, Burns and Councilman Tom Gardner voting yes and Councilman Willie Mickle Jr., Miles and Jones voting no.

In other business, council passed a resolution and first reading of an ordinance on “Project Picture,” an expansion of an existing Kershaw County industry the resolution said will be an investment of more than $72 million and result in 410 new full-time jobs. Council’s actions set the stage for a “fee-in-lieu-of-taxes” agreement with the as yet unnamed company, a common incentive offered to industries as an enticement for economic development. All signs point to Project Picture being tied to an upcoming announcement by Haier (see accompanying story).

Council held a public hearing and unanimously passed third reading of an ordinance concerning a joint industrial park with neighboring Chesterfield County. DuBose said in previous meetings the ordinance would simplify the process of adding new businesses or property to the park if either county wanted to do so later.

Council passed second reading of an ordinance officially setting the tax millage rate for the current fiscal year that started July 1. The vote split, 5-2, with Miles and Jones in opposition.

Council is considering applications for an appointment to the Santee Lynches Council of Government, but decided Tuesday to wait until more applications come in before selecting an appointee. Only two applications had been received as of Tuesday.

Finally, council unanimously voted to enter into a contract with Koenig Aircraft Maintenance, which operates at Woodward Field, the county-owned airport. Carpenter said he and county staff recommended approval of the one-year contract. Jones had words of praise for the staff who prepared the document.

“Whoever negotiated this contract should have helped Obama with Iran, because you did a good job,” Jones said. “I’m not an attorney, but you did a good job on this and the Airport Commission has done a great job on it as well.”

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