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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.14: Multi-county business parks at forefront
(Week of April 9, 2002)

APRIL 5, 2002 - - The House Ways & Means Committee is expected next week to consider a bill that could redress consequences of a law that allows rural counties to partner with big counties for "multi-county" industrial parks. But the proposal may be losing steam due to pressure from counties, which get a fiscal boost because of the law.

Under the current law, multi-county parks are allowed as incentives to attract businesses. Rural and wealthy counties are able to partner to offer property tax breaks that exempt companies from the taxes if they pay a fee. These "fees in lieu of taxes," are often significantly lower than the property taxes. Counties then use fees to pay infrastructure costs to build roads, sewers and other things needed to create multi-county parks. Part of the fees also is split between counties based on agreements to create multi-county parks.

But rural counties, sources say, often generate only 1 percent of the final fee, which doesn't do much to help those areas. Additionally, when counties negotiate tax incentives to attract businesses, they erode tax bases of school districts, which also don't often receive part of the fees generated from the tax break. Last year, the Horry County School District filed a lawsuit to stop the practice, but lost.

This year, Reps. Lewis Vaughn, R-Greenville, and Vida Miller, D-Georgetown, filed legislation to make the system fairer and force counties to distribute part of the fees from funds generated by multi-county parks to school and fire districts.

This week, a Ways & Means subcommittee amended the proposal so that school and fire districts could get some of the tax incentive fees - - but only after costs to pay for roads, sewers and other county services in the multi-county park are paid for. That amendment riled school and municipal officials, who say little will change if the amended bill moves forward. In fact, they say the amendment really doesn't do much at all.

Look next week for school districts to argue in favor of the original legislation, which has almost 60 sponsors, to provide more money for schools. On their side should be cities, fire districts and other special purpose districts. Pushing the amended version will be counties.

11/3: Use your vote wisely: a lesson
10/27: SC GOP to keep control of House
10/20: Black voters may be secret weapon
10/13: Talk is cheap; action takes courage
10/6: Creating sunshine to dampen negative ads
9/29: SC Set to be world leader in news research
9/22: SC Senate shift could be around corner
9/15: Gov's race about barbs, ads, not people
9/8: Shorfall may cause look at prison alternatives
9/2: Revitalize your patriotism by participating
8/25: S.C.'s fiscal situation could be a lot worse
8/18: State wetlands policy needed
8/11: The bully vs. the whiner
8/4: Noah's Ark approach to tax reform
7/28: Two-party system could be political outcome
7/21: State budget woes loom for 2 more years
7/14: Agencies can do better job on Internet
7/5: Thank a guardsman today for service
6/28: Hodges-Sanford race will be wild ride
6/21: Sanford-Peeler race's impact on GOP
6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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