Charleston County Council voted to defer a vote on the proposed Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) District for an area running from Citadel Mall to the North Bridge in West Ashley. Council Council voted down the proposal with a motion to reconsider at its Thursday, December 1 meeting.
The City of Charleston proposed the TIF as a 25-year plan to improve traffic, drainage, landscaping, sidewalks and other features along Sam Rittenberg to spur economic development in the area. The TIF would freeze property tax revenues at current levels for the City of Charleston, St. Andrews Public Service District, Charleston County and the Charleston County School District and use revenue resulting from increased property values to fund infrastructure improvements.
The sticking point with some County Council members appeared to be the duration of the TIF. Council members Anna Johnson and Teddie Pryor hinted at shortening the TIF agreement from 25 years to 20 years. The City of Charleston meets Tuesday, November 22 and may vote to limit the TIF to 20 years. County Council could then vote on the revised proposal at its December 1 meeting.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg urged County Council to support the proposal, suggesting that the 155 parcel district covering 425 acres needs a makeover. He argued that the improvements funded by the TIF would be a vital piece in the overall West Ashley revitalization plan. Tecklenburg cited the increase in property values associated with TIFs at Upper King and the waterfront in downtown Charleston.
Council members Joe Qualey and Dickie Schweers suggested that the improvements to Sam Rittenberg sought by Tecklenburg could by funded by the 0.5% transportation sales tax increase approved by Charleston County voters in the November 8 referendum. Qualey mentioned that a lot of new development is already happening in the area.