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County Council, November 5

Spring Grove Development gets second reading
A 0.5% levy on real estate sales to fund community projects
Warwick Jones

The agenda suggested that yesterday’s Finance Committee meeting would be short. Only 4 items were up for discussion and they were dealt with relatively promptly. It was the executive sessions the consumed the time, and added well over an hour to the meeting. The sessions dealt with Medical Services to jail inmates, the Spring Grove Development, and the Chicora Life Center (Naval Hospital).

At the conclusion of the first executive session, the Committee voted to defer a decision on awarding a contract for the provision of medical services to jail inmates until the Council meeting next week. In the meantime, members were to be provided with more details of the bids from the three finalists.

At the conclusion of the second executive session, a special meeting of the County Council was convened and the Spring Grove Development Agreement was given its second reading. It was passed with a 7 to 0 vote with Council member Johnson abstaining. Council member Darby was absent.

A copy of the Agreement was not in the public package so we do not know the changes made to the draft considered some weeks ago. Speaking toa representatives of Westrock in attendance, we understand that most of the changes were minor. Perhaps the most important was the agreement to levy a 0.5% fee on all real estate transactions. The funds accumulated from this levy would be used to provide facilities for the community. The fee would be similar in nature to that levied on residents of Daniel Island when real estate is sold.

We can only guess how much this fee will raise. Using the unit values places on housing, industrial and commercial property by Municap, we estimate the value of the build out of the Spring Grove project at about $2 billion ( 2013 dollar values) Based on this value, a 0.5% levy would raise a total of $10 million (2013 dollar values) spread over the 50 year project build out. However, the levy should raise much more as there are likely to be many resales over the 50 years.

There was no discussion at the Council meeting of the Naval Hospital issue. We suspect the executive session was heated. Evident at a Finance Committee meeting last month, there are differences among the members as to the action to be taken. Should the County walk away from the project or bear with and/or contribute the developer’s request for funding? (See our comment of October 9 for more details of the Spring Grove Development and the Chicora Life Center.

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