Richmond Hill City Council unanimously approved the creation of the city’s first Tax Allocation District on Tuesday. This will allow the city to improve its current commercial sector with some of the property tax increase as the sector grows.
With 4-0 votes, the council finally approved the creation of a Tax Allocation District (TAD), the first in the city.
The city’s residents voted for a referendum in July 2019 that allows the city to apply the Georgian Restructuring Powers Act. The TAD application will now be submitted to the Bryan County School Board and Bryan County Commission for approval. The three bodies must reach an agreement by December 31 for the application to take effect. If only one or two bodies approve the agreement, they can still use their share of the tax increases.
“This has been a long time coming and will be a key element in the redevelopment of Exit 87 (off I-95) and other areas,” Scott Allison, director of planning and zoning, told the city council at his pre-voting presentation.
When completed, the TAD will essentially comprise much of the current commercial sector of Richmond Hill. It will consist of 157 parcels of 567 acres along Highway 17, Ford Avenue and I-95 at exits 87 and 90, the city previously announced by KB Advisory Group consultant Ken Bleakly.
These packages, which already include everything from motels to office space to restaurants and gas stations, had a combined taxable value of more than $ 34 million in 2019, which is about 5.8% of the city’s tax revenue of 588.7 million Equivalent to US dollars.
The KB Advisory Group said this was important because a city cannot have more than 10% of its digestion in a TAD at any given time. That means there could be an additional TAD in the future.
The TAD would allow the city to take part of the property tax increase in that district and reinvest it in that district.
In a fast growing area like Richmond Hill, a TAD is a low risk, high return offering.
Veto of the mayor on the rezoning of grandstands
A head of government veto is difficult to overcome, the council learned on Tuesday evening as it failed to garner enough votes to overturn a rare veto by Mayor Russ Carpenter.
At the council meeting in July, Carpenter surprised many when he vetoed the city council’s 3-1 vote on three separate petitions from Simcoe Investment Group Inc.-3 medium-density neighborhoods.
Seasoned council watchers could not remember the last time a Richmond Hill mayor vetoed what, at first glance, appeared to be a relatively routine matter.
Since a 4-0 vote was required to lift the veto, the councilors who supported the petitions could only cast three votes. Mayor Pro Tem Kristi Cox, as she did at the July session, failed to go with councilors Robbie Ward, Steve Scholar and Les Fussell.
Before the vote, Carpenter had read his reasons for the veto in the official minutes, and Scholar disagreed with the council on his reasoning.
Among his reasons, Carpenter named the Planning and Zoning Commission’s 4-0 vote against approval and Cox’s no, which actually made them a 5-3 vote against. There were also traffic and congestion concerns, and the plans did not match the city’s overall plan.
The scholar gave several passionate reasons why he, Ward, and Fussell supported the project, including an increase in affordable housing, a higher tax base, a workforce support for the new exchange jobs, and a traffic study showed that extending and retracting the Area would not be affected.
When a vote was passed, Ward, Fussell and Scholar voted yes, with Cox again being the only objector. When she raised her hand for no to every petition, the veto has been upheld and will continue.
Among other items approved by the Council were:
• Jani King contracted to continue providing janitorial services for $ 23,304 with options to extend for four additional one-year terms.
• Approval of a preliminary plan submitted by Enmarket for a new facility on the corner of Harris Trail and Highway 17.
• The council agreed to approve the retrofitting of the city’s elevator stations with the Grundfos system for $ 295,000, paid from the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund.