County approves FILOT to support Georgia-Pacific’s $142 million investment
By Samantha Lyles
Darlington County Council convened a regular meeting on March 2 and advanced two measures designed to support Georgia-Pacific’s planned investment of $142 million to upgrade its Darlington facility.
Council approved Resolution 711, an inducement authorizing a Fee In Lieu of Taxes agreement which will drop the company’s tax assessment ratio from 10.5% to 6% for its manufacturing property. The resolution also authorizes a 16-year, 25% special source revenue credit. According to the resolution, the county believes that the incentive package “is critical to landing the $142 million investment and preserving a valuable base of employment and jobs in the county.”
Ordinance 19-14, the formalized adoption of the FILOT agreement, passed second reading. Neither of these measures drew any objection or comment from members of Council. Third and final reading of the FILOT ordinance will take place at council’s April 6 meeting.
Georgia-Pacific had previously announced its intent to close the current cup manufacturing plant and invest in a new, upgraded plate manufacturing facility. Some job loss is anticipated, but the company pledged to retrain workers and offer transfers to those who could not be placed in Darlington.
The disposal of the cup facility is anticipated to reduce tax revenues at the facility by $80,000 to $100,000 per year. The new FILOT agreement should yield net payments to Darlington County of $48 million over a 30-year period.
In other matters, council opted to delay a final vote on Ordinance 20-01 – the county’s updated comprehensive plan. Council member Bobby Kilgo suggested a work session be held so members can discuss specific elements of the plan, and the group agreed to schedule a review before their April meeting.
At their February meeting, Council heard from Alexander Brebner, a Charleston-based planner working through the Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments regarding the comprehensive plan.
Brebner said the 100-page document includes questions, suggestions, and strategies to help the county deal with flooding issues, utilize natural and historical resources and jumpstart population growth.
One of the plan’s central economic development ideas, he said, is “to introduce a hotel and community meeting space or convention center near the (Darlington) Raceway.” Brebner said that while the NASCAR track draws visitors from all across the nation to the annual Southern 500 race weekend, little of the accommodations revenue stays in Darlington County. Much of that money ends up in Florence County coffers, he noted.
To lure new residents, Brebner said the updated comprehensive plan suggests ways to “attract and spur new housing development,” such as reducing the costs developers face when attempting new construction.
Also on the agenda, council voted to reappoint current members to the Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee, and to add new member Winfred Herrington.
Darlington County Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 6 at the Courthouse Annex at 1625 Harry Byrd Highway in Darlington.
This meeting is open to the public.