City, county asked to pursue industrial park bond issues

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Brookhaven and Lincoln County officials are being asked thisweek to consider bond issues totaling approximately $4 million topurchase land and develop a new industrial park.

Brookhaven-Lincoln Chamber of Commerce and IndustrialDevelopment Foundation officials spoke to supervisors duringMonday’s board meeting and are scheduled to make a similarpresentation Tuesday night during the meeting of the mayor andboard of aldermen. Each government entity is being asked to pursuebond issues for $2 to $2.2 million.

Chandler Russ, the chamber’s executive vice-president, said thebond issue money would be paired with around $500,000 in privatefunds raised through the Vision Partnership campaign. The fundswill cover the estimated $4.7 million needed for land purchase anddeveloping phase one of the park, he said.

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The engineer-recommended site is on 550 acres west of the cityon 15th and 16th section land, with additional access to 16thsection land if needed. The location was chosen following a studylast year of six potential sites around the county.

Russ reviewed the community’s current industrial park situationand the lack of available land in the near-capacity existing park.He said there are only seven acres suitable for development in theexisting park, which has 16 industrial tenants.

Russ said neighboring areas and other communities in the statehave made investments in infrastructure and industrial parks. Thatactivity, he said, is putting Brookhaven and Lincoln County at acompetitive disadvantage.

“Without a prepared substantial tract of industrial property, wewill not be considered for economic development projects,” Russsaid.

Supervisors also heard potential benefits of park developmentand industry occupation.

Conservatively, Russ said full occupancy should help createabout 2,000 jobs, with an estimated $80 to $100 million payroll,and generate around $2 million a year in ad valorem property taxes.A side effect would be the creation of an additional 1,200 servicesector jobs with a total payroll of $54 to $70 million.

“Those payrolls both directly and indirectly created by the parkwill create additional ad valorem (taxes) for both the city andcounty,” Russ said.

Bond attorney Randy Wall also spoke to the board about the bondissue process.

Bond issue debt, estimated at around $175,000 a year over 20years, could be serviced through tax levies in the city’s andcounty’s general fund or through land sale proceeds. Land sales inthe park were estimated at $5.5 to $6.6 million.

The proposed site is in the city school district, meaning thatdistrict would directly see benefits from property taxes paid bynew industries that locate there.

However, the site is close to the county school district andsupervisors expressed interest in the county school district alsoreceiving property tax benefits. Bob Allen, supervisors’ attorney,said that issue would have to be worked out between the districts’governing boards.

“I’ve got confidence the two boards can work together,” Allensaid.

District 3 Supervisor and Board President Nolan Earl Williamsonexpressed support for the industrial park project.

“We need it. We’ve got to have it,” said Williamson, while alsomentioning property tax issues for citizens. “My concern is puttingmore millage on the people, but that’s the only way to pay forit.”

Following the presentation, Russ asked supervisors to take thepark bond issue request under advisement until the June 2 meeting.At that time, he said, the board could authorize bond counsel toproceed with plans for an up to $2.2 million bond issue.

Russ expressed appreciation to supervisors for their support ofthe project.

“You have always been a strong backbone for economicdevelopment,” Russ told the board.

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