MONCKS CORNER -- Berkeley County officials are pushing a plan to raise money for a road that could pave the way for thousands of new jobs, but the school board needs more convincing.
Officials estimate a new industrial park off Interstate 26 at Jedburg would create nearly 10,000 direct jobs, plus an additional 8,500 spinoff jobs. The holdup is with raising $160 million for a new interchange and parkway to handle the traffic.
The developers have promised to pay $85 million. The state would kick in $25.7 million and the county $35.4 million. That leaves the project $13.5 million short.
Last month, officials from the county and MeadWestvaco, which owns the land, approached the school board with a plan to raise the rest of the money for the roads.
A new tax-increment financing district would be created at the site. New development would raise new tax money. The school district would give up to one quarter of its tax money -- $13.5 million -- to help build the interchange.
The new tax district could boost the school district's budget, but board members are worried it won't be enough to pay for the new schools that also would be in the mix.
Besides new industries, the new interchange and Sheep Island Parkway also would clear the way for thousands of new houses.
"Hearing that they have a way to bring 15,000 more homes in this area, that scares the daylights out of me," Board Vice Chairman Doug Cooper said at last month's meeting. "We don't have enough money to pay for the schools we have now."
Board members are not taking action on the proposal until they can learn more about what the district stands to gain and lose. A district consultant is slated to make a presentation at tonight's board meeting.