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Dorchester County Council Seeks Removal of 500 N Main from Midtown TIF; Points to More Bond Capacity

Author's Note: To get caught up on this project all of our previous coverage is linked at the bottom.

Dorchester County - In a significant development during today's Special Called Council meeting, the Dorchester County Council unanimously approved a motion to send a letter to the Town of Summerville, urging the removal of 500 N Main from the Midtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. This proposal aims to create additional bonding capacity for various crucial projects without relying on TIF revenues.

The approved motion allows for the reallocation of funds toward essential initiatives such as preserving the historical facade of the hospital building, constructing a new civic park on the property, enhancing and conserving the veterans memorial, allocating $8 million in funding for DD2 schools, earmarking $20 million for a community recreation facility outside the Midtown TIF district, and implementing streetscape improvements for Main and Cedar Streets.

Furthermore, there is potential for workforce credits to be offered to teachers and first responders in the multifamily development for a duration of 15 years. The expansion plan also includes provisions for Class A office space and an additional parking garage.

Councilman Todd Friddle shed light on the current limitations of the Midtown TIF, stating that only $25 million in bonds are presently available. A TIF is essentially borrowing against future expected tax revenues. However, when the TIF was initially calculated by the Town of Summerville, the taxable value of the 500 N Main St development project was not taken into account. Had it been included, additional bonding capacity would be accessible for immediate use.

Presently, $20 million of the $25 million bond capacity has been utilized for projects like the Maple Street extension, the Dorchester Coroner's Office, and improvements to Alston Bailey. Consequently, only $5 million remains for future TIF projects, including the Cedar Street extension, drainage improvements, public safety buildings, parks, and other necessary enhancements in the area.

Removing 500 N Main from the TIF and establishing a fee in lieu tax agreement would provide the county with greater flexibility and the ability to borrow more funds as a result of the new revenues from the proposed development at 500 N Main to undertake projects both within and outside the TIF district. Councilman Chinnis emphasized the current government building is generating 0 revenue for the County.

During the meeting, Councilman Crosby inquired about the current tax revenue generated for the School Districts by the existing building, to which County Administrator Jason Ward responded that it currently yields zero dollars.

County Administrator Jason Ward stated that the proposed change would allow the county to potentially save the facade of the historic County building, fund the development of a civic park, and contribute to preserving the veterans memorial using funds from the fee in lieu tax agreement. The Council could engage with the developer to negotiate terms aligned with the County's objectives in the fee in lieu tax agreement. Ward confirmed that this action would provide the County with more influence over the potential development.

Councilman Byars expressed his support, emphasizing the potential benefits for the community as a whole and the importance of supporting the younger generation. He highlighted his commitment to building a future for the community's children while respecting its past. Byars emphasized the desire to offer local amenities that rival those found in other areas, eliminating the need for residents to travel to places like Mt Pleasant. He underscored the importance of collaboration between the County, the Town, and the school district in shaping the community's future.

With a resounding 6-0 vote, the Council authorized the dispatching of a letter to the Town of Summerville, formally requesting the removal of 500 N Main from the Midtown TIF district. This decision marks a significant step toward expanding the county's capacity to undertake essential projects that will benefit the community, preserve historical landmarks, invest in education, and enhance recreational facilities. By leveraging the potential of the fee in lieu tax agreement, Dorchester County is poised to create a brighter future while maintaining its rich heritage and fostering a thriving environment for its residents.

Read all of our coverage on 500 N Main:

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