Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Funding Another TIF Not Wise for Charleston's School Budget

Haven't you ever wondered about the willingness of the Charleston County School District to forgo income in order to revitalize parts of the county? Well, I have and wrote previously of my doubts. Now Steve Bailey has weighed in as the school district looks to sign up for yet another TIF to revitalize West Ashley.

Don't get me wrong, I grew up in West Ashley and would love to see it blossom again the way it did in the 1960s and 1970s. However, Bailey's figures should give anyone pause. As he stated in his op-ed earlier this week, (see education-champion-rittenberg-would-not-have-approved  )
Take the Charleston County School District. It currently participates in six TIFs in Charleston, North Charleston and Mount Pleasant. The district by far “invests” more in the TIFs than the municipalities that use them to promote growth. [italics mine] 
According to Mack Gile, the county budget director, the school district deferred $10.8 million in tax revenue for operations and $2.8 million for debt in the fiscal year 2016 alone. Leave the meter running for years and it adds up to real dough. You will recall this is a school district that had a budget shortfall of $18 million last year. 
Mount Pleasant’s TIF produced $12.6 million in fiscal 2016 to fund or pay off debt for infrastructure improvements. Of that, $7.8 million in operations and debt revenue came from the schools; the town and the county kicked in about $2 million each. 
North Charleston’s four TIFs netted $9.6 million in 2016. The city deferred $3 million and the county $1.4 million; the school district about $4.8 million.
"A million here; a million there: pretty soon it adds up to real money." 

Don't you wonder if the School Board members really understood the financial loss with their participation in these TIFs? 

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