Most public school advocates would agree, money to public education is good. Money away from public education, not so good. So when it comes to Project Jackson many have been very unhappy thinking their money would go into a ballpark, instead of inside school buildings – especially during a tough budget year:
“That's probably the most outspoken reason [I hear,] 'We don't want our dollars going to a ballpark.'”
But some school board members and North Augusta Mayor Lark Jones say it wouldn't go to building a ballpark and it wouldn't mean -taking- money from schools:
“Absolutely not,” Jones says, “what we're hoping to do is build a project that will add, even from the first year will add revenues.”
“We're not on the hook for anything,” Richard Hazen says, “we're not giving north Augusta money, we're not giving developers money, we're deferring some of the taxes.”
Even with deferring some tax revenue, they say they would -making- money for schools. Here's how it works: Right now the property that would be in the TIF district only brings in around $3,500 a year; with the improvements in Project Jackson, even just a portion of the revenue would bring in more 65 times that – nearly $250,000 a year.
“It's a cliche and it's overworked, but hopefully it's a win-win for everybody involved,” Jones says.
The schools -could- gain even more were the area to be developed to the same extent without the TIF district, but that doesn't appear to be a viable option. And they say $234,000 is about 65 times better than the current $3,500.
Tuesday night the board will only be discussing the intergovernmental agreement; the expect to vote in approximately two weeks. Should the agreement be approved, North Augusta will still have to reach an agreement with Aiken County, then work with a developer to approve plans.