Council Gives First OK to Incentives

WINNSBORO – County Council Monday night unanimously passed first reading of an ordinance to authorize a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement, infrastructure credits and other incentives to an economic development project code-named “Project Leprechaun.” According to the ordinance, the project also includes property in Fairfield County in the I-77 Corridor Industrial Park.

Tiffany Harrison, Director of Fairfield Economic Development, said she could not comment on the project, but said only that it was a “great project for Fairfield County.”

The I-77 Corridor Industrial Park, Harrison said, is not a physical park in itself, but a master agreement between Fairfield and Richland counties comprising various individual businesses located in several different industrial parks. Joining a multi-county industrial park agreement qualifies industries for many state tax incentives, Harrison said.

Two other ordinances aimed at expanding the I-77 Corridor Regional Industrial Park, one to include University Residences, LLC, and another to include PTI Plastic & Rubber, Inc. also passed second reading Monday night without dissent.

In other business, Milton Pope, Interim County Administrator, told Council that the lowest bid to replace a decommissioned fire truck came in $2,177 over budget, but that administration was moving forward with the $302,177 purchase.

“We will have to make reductions in that department to fulfill that order and replace that fire truck,” Pope said. “So we’ll be moving forward unless you have other questions about it.”

Pope said delivery time on the truck was 8 months.

Pope also told Council that the construction company making repairs to the retaining wall around the Drawdy Park football field had obtained its building permit from the Town of Winnsboro last week. Pope said administration was also working with Winnsboro to put into writing policies and practices regarding the inspections of County properties that sit inside the Town limits. The Town has agreed, Pope said, to defer inspections of the Drawdy Park repairs to the independent engineering firm hired by the County to oversee the project.

Council also took some criticism during the second public comments portion of the meeting over a May 27 vote to hand over long-term strategic planning duties to the Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG).

“We’ve had quite a few plans done over the last few years and we haven’t done anything when we got them back,” Billy Smith, a District 7 resident, said, “so what’s going to change to make us do anything to work these plans out? We’ve got the same council members. Everything else is the same, except just a different plan.”

Councilman David Brown (District 7), who put the COG motion on the floor on May 27, responded that his motion included the use by the COG of all previous plans undertaken by the County, including the 2012 Genesis study, in formulating a current study. Pope, meanwhile, said that parts of the Genesis plan had indeed been implemented, and Vice Chairman Dwayne Perry (District 1) said that those implementations – economic development infrastructure along Peach Road – are helping to bring industry to Fairfield County.

“I think the jobs are now starting to come because of the work that was done three or four years ago,” Perry said. “By having the COG get involved, it’s going to help us even more.”