The Beach Co.’s plan to use future public tax dollars to pay for improvements to the private Kiawah River Plantation development faces an uphill battle.
Highlights of plan
Highlights of the Beach Co.’s proposed TIF for the Kiawah River Plantation:The plan would pay for about $82 million in improvements to the property and surrounding area, not the $84.5 million originally estimated.Charleston County would give up $8.9 million in tax revenue, not the $11.6 million originally estimated.The tax-increment financing district would last up to 40 years for the county, its Park and Recreation Commission and the St. Johns Fire District, but only 25 years for the school district.The Beach Co. estimates the development would boost property tax revenue from $2,900 to $16.3 million annually, and would generate 850 to 900 jobs.Ten percent of the 1,200 homeowners are expected to be permanent, year-round residents. The rest would be retirees, and second- and vacation homeowners.
Charleston County Council heard presentations on the special tax district plan from the developer, a consultant and the county’s planning department Thursday. The group didn’t vote, and the meeting didn’t include a public-comment session.
If approved, the plan, known as a tax-increment financing district, or TIF, would pay for a sewer treatment facility, roads, fire services and other improvements with future tax revenue the 2,000-acre Johns Island property would generate.
Dozens of county residents showed up to oppose the plan. The Post and Courier couldn’t identify a resident at the meeting who supported it, and nobody responded to a call for supporters through social media Thursday.
“The most absurd thing about it is that County Council is even considering it,” said Diane Lehder, a Kiawah Island resident,
Charleston resident John King, who supported the completion of Interstate 526 across Johns and James islands, said he was opposed to the tax district plan. “It’s taxpayer money for a private development,” he said.
Beach Co. President John Darby said the planned upscale community would be a good kind of development for the southern end of Johns Island. It would include many vacation and second homes, and wouldn’t include many families with school-age children. It would have less impact on county services than other types of developments, he said. And it would generate a lot of tax revenue.
Now, the property brings in about $2,900 per year in tax revenue, but once it’s developed, it would generate more than $16 million, he said.
Darby said the company needs the financial relief the TIF would bring to get that kind of community off the ground.
It remains unclear where most council members stand on the plan. Councilmen Joe Qualey, Dickie Schweers and Herb Sass said they opposed it. The other six members have not said publicly where they stand.
County Council’s Finance Committee will vote on the TIF on Thursday. The full council will vote May 7.