County Council starts year with three swearing-ins

Returning Darlington County Council members Lewis Brown, Joyce Wingate Thomas and new member Angie Stone Godbold are sworn in by Judge Marvin Lawson at the Jan. 5 meeting. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/SCREEN SHOT

By Samantha Lyles

Darlington County Council’s Jan. 5 regular meeting began with a swearing-in ceremony for new and returning members, conducted by Judge Marvin Lawson. Returning Councilman Lewis Brown (District 7, Hartsville/Kelleytown), Councilwoman Joyce Wingate Thomas (District 3, Darlington), and new Councilwoman Angie Stone Godbold (District 1, Darlington) took their oaths and joined their fellow representatives for the first session of the new year. On the regular agenda, council passed third reading for a new FILOT agreement with Polyquest Inc. and DAK Americas (previously referred to as Project Team). According to Ordinance 20-08, the industries plan to invest at least $10 million to expand manufacturing operations in Darlington County over the next five years. As an incentive, the county will offer the company a fee in lieu of tax arrangement using a 6% assessment ratio for a period of 30 years for each component of the project placed in service during the investment period. The county will also agree to include the involved property in a multicounty industrial and business park. County administrator Charles Stewart delivered the good news that the Darlington County Fire District will receive a new $451,000 fire truck, thanks to a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) partnership with the Pee Dee Council of Governments. Qualifying for this grant required a number of door-to-door surveys, a difficult task made tougher by the pandemic. Fortunately, Pee Dee COG already had a number of these surveys completed for the area near DCFD’s South Darlington station on Hoffmeyer Road. “Pee Dee COG along with Fire District staff and volunteers finished up the survey that needed to be done in that area and applied for the grant, and we have received $451,000 from (S.C. Department of) Commerce through CDBG to purchase a fire truck for that station,” said Stewart. Stewart added that he plans to utilize that annual grant program again next year to acquire equipment for other rural areas of the county. In other matters, Council carried over final reading of two ordinances detailing incentives for a new $150 million industrial investment that could bring nearly 300 new full-time jobs to Darlington County. These ordinances refer to an industrial client code named Project Dark Star. Ordinance 20-06 lays out terms for a FILOT (Fee In Lieu of Taxes) agreement guaranteeing Project Dark Star a favorable assessment ratio of 6% and a fixed millage rate equal to 321.4 mills for a term of up to 40 years. The extract of Ordinance 20-06 explains that Project Dark Star is “a South Carolina corporation” that plans to “construct a manufacturing facility in the County through the acquisition, construction, purchase, and lease of certain land, buildings, furnishings, fixtures, apparatuses, and equipment…which will result in new investment in real and personal property estimated to be no less than $150,000,000.00… in the County and the creation of an estimated 292 new full time jobs.” Ordinance 20-07 would enlarge the boundaries of the joint Darlington County / Lee County industrial park to include county-owned property slated for use by Project Dark Star, and sets forth the distribution of any revenues generated by this agreement. The ordinance explains that proceeds would be distributed as follows: “One percent (1%) to Lee County; Ten percent (10%) to the Darlington County Economic Development Fund; Fifteen and one half percent (15.5%) to the Darlington County Capital Fund; Thirty three and one half percent (33.5%) to school operations; One percent (1%) to school bonds; One percent (1%) to FDTC; Twenty five percent (25%) to County operations; One percent (1%) to County bonds; One percent (1%) to Library; One percent (1%) to Landfill; Seven percent (7%) to Fire operations; and Three percent (3%) to Fire bonds.” Council extended Darlington County’s Public Health Emergency declaration through March 21, 2021. Under this declaration, county administrator Charles Stewart “is authorized to continue take any necessary actions for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of Darlington County citizens and visitors,” including limiting non-emergency activities and prohibiting public assemblies, and utilizing all available resources of county government as reasonably necessary to cope with the COVID-19 emergency. Further, Council extended by 60 days a measure allowing public meetings to be held via electronic means and broadcast live to the public via social media (Darlington County Council Live Meetings on Facebook) and archived at the county’s website, This provision will expire on April 5 unless ended sooner by resolution. Darlington County Council’s next scheduled meeting is Monday, Feb. 1 at 6 p.m.

Author: Stephan Drew

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