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Economic incentives receive first reading nod

Posted: November 30, 2015 5:55 p.m.
Updated: December 1, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Camden City Council passed first reading of an ordinance during its Nov. 24 meeting establishing incentives for businesses seeking to open in the city. Basically, the ordinance proposes to allow the city to be able to grant certain incentives on a case-by-case basis to businesses in designated areas of the city. 

After a few minutes of discussion clarifying incentive areas and minimum investment thresholds for those areas, council passed first reading unanimously. The ordinance outlines an application process and criteria for qualifying for the proposed incentives.

First, in order to qualify, a business must open on commercially zoned property within the city limits. The ordinance establishes a minimum capital investment threshold of $250,000 in the areas bounded to the west by Chestnut Ferry Road and U.S. 1, south to Bull Street, east to U.S. 1 and Bishopville Highway (SC 34) and north to Dusty Bend.

For the areas between Chestnut Ferry Road/U.S. 1 to the Wateree River, commercial property along Springdale Drive to Chestnut Ferry Road, and the area from Bull Street to Exit 98 at I-20, the minimum investment would be $1 million.

Incentives would only be granted, on a case-by-case basis, through an agreement reached between the city and the applicant. All incentives would be in the form of reimbursements and refunds of fees and taxes; the city would not grant any upfront abatements. The businesses would need to make the prescribed minimum investment commitment and would need to increase tourism and create full time jobs. Incentives would be determined based on the amount of capital investment, the amount of new revenue directly created, and the number of new jobs created by the development.

Also during the meeting, city Manager Mel Pearson briefly discussed a proposal between the city and Kershaw County to take over operation and revenue collection of the east Camden sewer line. Pearson reported county council had passed first reading of an ordinance which would turn over the operations of that portion of the county sewer system to the city. He said this is the only part of the county system east of the Wateree River and the city already handles the operation.

However, the city cannot actually take ownership of the system yet because the county paid for the system with funds from a State Revolving Fund loan and one of the stipulations of that loan is that the county cannot transfer ownership until the loan is paid in full.

Pearson also announced that the city’s tree lighting event will be today at 6 p.m. at Camden City Hall (see sidebar).

In other business, council:

• passed first reading of an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of Combined Public Utility System Improvement Revenue Bonds in the amount not to exceed $7.08 million for upgrades to electrical infrastructure in areas in and between the Kendall Mill Village and Lyttleton Street;

• approved a façade grant application in the amount of $2,065 with a city match of $1,032.75 for Markley Properties, located at 2519 Broad St.;

• passed a proclamation designating Nov. 28 as Small Business Saturday in the city; and

• briefly went into executive session to discuss a proposed purchase of property -- no action was taken.

Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. in regular session Dec. 8 in City Hall, 1000 Lyttleton Street. Council cancelled its Dec. 23 meeting.

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