October 13, 2005
A special meeting in Aiken Thursday night fueled more discussion about Tax Incremental Financing, or TIF. It’s a controversial pay-off plan for two planned neighborhoods, Sage Creek and Trolley Run Station. News 12 is on your side with how some people are dogging the developers.
The first nail has yet to be hammered, but FineDeering’s billion-dollar development has already built a wall in Aiken County.
“It’s not a fair situation and it’s completely out of the norm,” said Greg Flach, concerned resident.
And FineDeering admits, it is out of the norm. According to Texas developer Richard Fine, it’s the first time he’s ever had to request TIF funding for a project, ultimately using a portion of property tax revenue to help pay off a county bond. But because the two sites are without water, roads and sewer lines, he says he didn’t have a choice.
“We’re putting in sixty million dollars of the infrastructure costs ourselves, we’re just asking the county to put in the infrastructure they would have been if they had the money,” Fine said.
Resident Greg Flach says the plan is unfair, that taking 28 percent of new taxes away would leave an extra financial burden on everyone else.
“In return it seems that we’re getting very little if any benefit out of the deal,” Flach said.
“Cedar Creek, which is another large development, paid for their own roads so it is not really clear why the citizens have to pay for the roads here,” said Marianna Percoraro, concerned resident.
Meanwhile, FineDeering continues to defend its intentions of turning 2,400 acres into tax-generating ones, something they say can’t happen without a solid partnership.
“We need a vision. If we don’t all have that vision now in fifteen years we don’t’ want everybody to look back and say man, I wish we’d done that,” Fine said.