County Council to consider more industry incentives
By Samantha Lyles
At their Nov. 2 meeting, Darlington County Council pressed pause on one set of industry incentives and set about reviewing an agreement with a second company, with a total potential investment of over $160 million on the horizon. After a mid-meeting executive session, council carried over final reading for two ordinances detailing incentives for a new $150 million industrial investment that could bring nearly 300 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 percent and a fixed millage rate equal to 321.4 mills for a term of up to 40 years. 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. According to this ordinance, proceeds would be distributed as follows: 1 percent to Lee County; 10 percent to the Darlington County Economic Development Fund; 15.5 percent to the Darlington County Capital Fund; 33.5 percent to school operations; 1 percent to school bonds; 1 percent to FDTC; 25 percent to county operations; 1 percent to county bonds; 1 percent to Library; 1 percent to Landfill; 7 percent to fire operations; and 3 percent to fire bonds. 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 … in the county and the creation of an estimated 292 new full-time jobs.” In other business matters, council approved Resolution 720, which clears the way for establishing a FILOT agreement with an industry code named Project Team. The resolution states that Project Team plans to invest at least $10 million in Darlington County. As an incentive, the county will offer the company a fee in lieu of tax arrangement using a 6 percent 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 Project Team’s property in a multi-county industrial and business park. Another ordinance related to Project Team, No. 20-08, cleared a title-only first reading and will be up for discussion and voting at Council’s December meeting. Also on the regular agenda, council passed third and final reading of Ordinance 20-05, which will require registration and set-up for mobile and manufactured homes to be performed in a manner consistent with surrounding counties. The two primary changes to current codes require these homes to “have steps installed with landings and handrails, in accordance with applicable Building Codes” and have an “S.C. DHEC Permit to Construct for new septic systems, septic tank affidavit for existing systems or document showing connection to city or county service.” The next regular meeting of Darlington County Council will take place Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at the Courthouse Annex/EMS Building at 1625 Harry Byrd Highway in Darlington. The meeting is restricted to County Council members and county staff. If you would like to submit comments for council’s review, send them to Clerk to Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail them to the County Administrator’s Office, 1 Public Square, Room 210, Darlington, SC 29532. Written comments must include your contact information and be received by noon on the date of the meeting. Public hearing and citizens’ comments will also be accepted at the meeting via telephone at 843-398-4469 beginning at 5:50 p.m.