Jackson County Commissioners met in back-to-back sessions Tuesday. Continue reading for regular-session highlights and see Saturday’s print edition for details on the special session, including an update on the new fire station.
County to consider incentive for Enviva projectJackson County Commissioners are considering granting the Enviva energy pellet plant an incentive to assist the company in making what county staff described only as “a large capital investment” proposed by the firm.
That was the only descriptive offered in the county’s Tuesday board meeting, the subject discussed briefly without any further detail being disclosed in the session. There was talk of job creation, with the number “25” heard by some in the audience as one commissioner commented to another board member at the table. The capital investment total was not given, and the nature of the investment was not discussed.
The amount of the investment potentially being made by Enviva was not confirmed, but the figure “80 million” was spoken as the discussion progressed.
Board members spoke of potential ways an incentive could be granted, whether by an outright grant or by way of tax relief. It was mentioned that the tax break proposed by the company may no longer be an option under the procedure used before 2008, the year board attorney Michelle Jordan indicated that the old option had expired.
The company has requested 70-percent tax abatement for 10 years. In the meeting, there was some talk of alternatives, including an economic development grant or other means of granting incentive.
Commissioners voted to have Jordan draw up an agreement with Enviva for board consideration, with input from the finance department as to the monetary effect it could have on county revenue or general funds.
County seeks firm to repair boardwalk
Jackson County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to initiate the process of finding a company to repair the Spring Creek boardwalk, which was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael.
The job will be bid with a couple of alternatives, to see if the cost of having the downed trees and other vegetation that fell upon it would come in lower than having county staffers do that part of the work before the boardwalk is repaired.
The county must also document which damage was storm-caused and which disrepair is due to normal wear and tear over time.
The fate of storm-related reimbursement dollars depends on accurately recording that, as funding agencies could refuse full payment, if the damages are erroneously co-mingled.
County explores turning gym into convention center
Jackson County Commissioners on Tuesday voted to send board chairman Clint Pate, administrator Wilanne Daniels and maintenance chief James Watkins on a mission to determine what needs to be done to the old gym at Endeavor in order to bring it up to standard for potential use as a convention center and auditorium or similar use.
Although some board members warned against piecemeal planning for Endeavor (AKA the old Dozier School for Boys property), the board eventually decided some steps need to be taken in order to build momentum in the process of repurposing the big piece of property that includes the gym, several other buildings used at the school, and remaining evidence of Hurricane Michael.
Since the board is considering use of Tourist Development dollars on the gym project, staff was directed to inform the TDC group about that plan.
Whether the dollars would be taken from the “locked” 2-cents-on-the-dollar that the county sets aside from the 4 it receives from every dollar spent on motel stays in Jackson County, or whether the money would come from the more unfettered remaining coppers, was not decided at Tuesday’s meeting, where some commissioners expressed reluctance to pry open that “lockbox” for money to use on this project.
That decision remains to be made as study continues on the gym project.