Lexington County Council Chairman Todd Cullum says opposition to Cayce TIF illogical

After some members of Lexington County Council opposed a TIF request from the City of Cayce,  Chairman Todd Cullum said blocking the TIF does not make sense.

After TIF improvements, the value of the Cayce Brickworks property is $4.2 million. (Photo by Terry Ward.)

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) allows the directing of tax revenue to go to redevelopment of the area from which the tax is collected.

Cayce wants to extend an existing TIF to immediately get to work on a streetscaping and improvement plan on Knox-Abbott Drive. If the county would allow the TIF to be extended at 1998 base tax values, it would make more funds available, immediately, for Cayce development. It would also allow Cayce to use grant funding and synchronize projects to save more than $1 million.

If the TIF is approved by county council only for current year tax base levels, not 1998 levels, it generates less money for Cayce development projects, and the city would have to wait for the funds to accumulate. Cayce leaders said the money is needed now to keep up momentum.

Projects that have added millions to the tax base of Cayce, and to Lexington County, have been TIF funded. Those include the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center and Riverwalk. A Cayce “Fact Sheet” stated that development outside of the 188-acre TIF district is valued at $41 million. And the development would not have happened without the TIF.

Cullum sites specific examples of TIF funding improvements as evidence of the need to extend the TIF at the 1998 level. The Guignard Brickworks property in Cayce had a value of around $455,000 in 2004. After the property was improved with TIF funds, it’s worth $4.2 million. The value of the property off of 12th Street Extension, where the Otarre Pointe Apartments are built, went from $3.1 million in 2014 to $22.1 million in 2016 after it was developed.

But last week, Lexington County Council members Erin Long Bergeson, Ned Tolar, Phil Yarborough and Darrell Hudson released a statement opposing an extension of the TIF at the 1998 level.

“We strongly oppose extending the current TIF, at 20-year-old (1998) tax values. The costs would far exceed the benefits.”

Release of the statement prompted a reply from Cayce Mayor Elise Partin.

“The people of Lexington County know the economic development value of the Riverwalk and other projects we have undertaken. Our Cayce Council members have a strong record of protecting the taxpayers and using sound fiscal management,” Partin said.

The Otarre Pointe property is valued at $22.1 million. The development came because of the award-winning Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center, funded by the TIF.

Cullum also took issue with the county council members’ statement.

“The TIF agreement that was established in 1998 has been extremely successful for both the city and county, alike. The county contribution to the TIF was $1.8 million over the life of the TIF,” Cullum wrote in a release.  “As a result of the contribution from the county and other taxing entities, the development and redevelopment in the TIF district has exceeded $20 million dollars in taxable value. The indirect new development adjacent to the TIF district that has been created is in excess of $30 million in taxable value.”

“I believe that everyone can agree that the TIF district has built an economic foundation for the County and City to realize growth in the tax base for years to come,” Cullum stated.

But the council members opposing the Cayce TIF said the growth in Cayce is not dependent on the TIF investments the city has made into its infrastructure.

Cullum does not buy that. The four that oppose the Cayce TIF said they intend to approve a $10 million TIF for the Town of Lexington. Cullum said that plan will end up costing the county because the country will be responsible for the roads and a bridge over I-20 that will be added (via the TIF.) The county provides fire service to Lexington, too.

Cullum said the development in Cayce has been more commercial than it has been residential. He said residential growth, like the growth in the Town of Lexington, costs more for the county because the county must provide services for all the new residents. Cayce, not the county,  provides many of the services to its residents.

“It does not make sense to oppose the Cayce TIF. You’re either anti-development or being territorial,” Cullum, of Cayce, said. He also noted that council, in 2015, approved a TIF extension in West Columbia at 1998 base-tax rates. Tolar, of West Columbia, Cullum said voted to extend that TIF extension.