The continuing saga of the tax increment financing (TIF) district for an upscale Johns Island development took another odd turn on Tuesday when Charleston County Council Chairman Teddie Pryor pulled the item from today’s council agenda.
Apparently, the delay does not include a provision for a public hearing on the controversial plan. Such a hearing would give council an idea about who, if anyone, actually supports this proposal to divert $82 million in tax revenue to help build the resort/residential project.
Mr. Pryor says he wants to give other jurisdictions, including the Charleston County School District, more time to consider the plan.
But County Council is the lead agency on the TIF proposal. The school board won’t make a decision unless and until council gives the go-ahead. The school district would forgo $63 million in tax revenue if its board approves the TIF.
School board member John Barter, who is the panel’s point man on the TIF proposal, told our reporter that he didn’t ask for the delay.
But Kiawah River Plantation developer John Darby did, in a letter hand-delivered to Chairman Pryor on Tuesday. In comments to our reporter, Mr. Darby, CEO and president of The Beach Company, acknowledged that his presentation before council last week did not go as well as he had hoped: “... So let’s hit the pause button. Let’s get it resolved.”
The fact that some of council’s most vocal opponents of the project are now talking about forcing a vote on the issue at today’s meeting suggests that the KRP pitch didn’t go over at all.
Even Councilman Elliot Summey, who describes himself as “the most pro-business member on council,” says he’s “struggling with” the KRP proposal.
Some ideas just can’t be sold, despite the best efforts of those who back them.
A TIF for Kiawah River Plantation is probably one of them, and hitting the pause button is unlikely to make a difference except to delay an inevitable “no” vote.