County Council votes to stimulate $150 million investment
by Samantha Lyles
Darlington County Council convened a brief regular meeting on Monday, Oct. 5 where they worked to finalize inducements for a new $150 million industrial investment that could bring nearly 300 new full-time jobs.
Council held second reading and first votes for two ordinances and one resolution pertaining to an industrial client code named Project Dark Star. First up, Ordinance 20-06 laid 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.
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 the ordinance, 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.
Both of these measures passed by a unanimous vote of council, with no discussions prior to each vote. Council member Joyce Wingate Thomas asked when the county could expect to hear if Project Dark Star signed off on these agreements, and County Administrator Charles Stewart replied that he anticipated a response within a week.
Council also passed Resolution 719 without dissent, officially designating Project Dark Star as a valid use of the FILOT statute. This means that the county feels the benefits (providing services, benefits, or job creation) outweigh the cost of the inducements provided.
According to Ordinance 20-06, 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.”
Also on the agenda, Council passed second reading of Ordinance 20-05, which would 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 will require these homes to “Have steps installed with landings and handrails, in accordance with applicable Building Codes” and have an “SC DHEC Permit to Construct for new septic systems, septic tank affidavit for existing systems or document showing connection to city or county service.”
During closing comments, Council member Bobby Kilgo offered thanks to Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp and track staff for all their hard work staging three races in May, and he noted that their efforts likely played a big part in NASCAR deciding to add another race to Darlington’s schedule beginning in May of 2021.