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Letter: Jones questions econ dev expenditures

Posted: February 22, 2018 3:29 p.m.
Updated: February 23, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I commented and made a motion at the Jan. 29, meeting of county council as to cost effective means I believe can and should be used to address the problems and issues that were identified by staff, consultants, and department of commerce as to economic development in Kershaw County in 2014. My motion was to limit costs incurred by the citizens of Kershaw County going forward as to the $17.2 million bond by not spending anymore of the proceeds not already spent or committed. To date, approximately $3.6 to $4 million of $17.2 million bond have been spent or committed. My motion was made for the benefit of the tax payers and to further economic development. My motion failed.

I want to be clear that I fully support economic development and fully support the recruitment of new industry in Kershaw County. I have consistently supported economic development. We must expand our industrial tax space and attract new industries for new jobs at new industries -- make no mistake about this.

However, I have consistently opposed what I believe to be excessive spending for economic development by doubling the economic development budget, by doubling the economic development payroll budget, by tripling the size of the space of the economic development office in the new Central Carolina Technical College building, and by issuing an unnecessary $17.2 million economic development bond. The prior economic development office space was more than adequate and was only nine years old.

I also believe Kershaw County had greater success in economic development prior to doubling the budget, doubling the payroll, and tripling the space for economic development in the new CCTC building and issuing a $17.2 million economic development bond. Economic development is unnecessarily taking away space from CCTC and costs way too much.

I do not think Kershaw County has had any new industrial buildings and new industry located in the county in more than 10 years. I do not believe that the $17.2 million bond and the doubling of economic development budget has led to an equal increase in industrial tax or fee revenues and has not resulted in the location and construction of new industries in Kershaw County and new industrial jobs. The expenditures of these large sums of money by Kershaw County to date has not addressed the issues identified.

The industrial investment that has occurred recently has mostly been to existing industries that have a history of investment in Kershaw County. This investment, while good, is not a result of the $17.2 million bond or the doubling of the economic development budget and is not investment in new industries and new industrial investment.

In fact,  we heard the announcement of new proposed investment by Canfor Southern Pine.  This investment is good for the county, but was not the result of county economic development efforts or related to the $17.2 million bond or the doubling of the economic development budget.

I am asking the administration to provide me with the total of industrial taxes and fees in lieu of taxes received by Kershaw County for all taxing entities for the last 10 years. I ask for a breakdown on a yearly basis of the source of these fees and taxes by identifying the industry or funding source. I would also like to see the economic development budget for the last 10 years and total economic development spending for each of the last 10 years. 

I am not trying to cast blame or make anyone look bad by making this request.  I am just stating the facts as I see them and am only seeking this information to determine the results of the large increased spending and location of new industries in Kershaw County.


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