UNION — An incentive program to encourage business to invest in the downtown area, improvements to the city’s water system, and prioritizing the needs of the community to help obtain grants to address those needs were all on the agenda of this week’s Union City Council meeting.
Council held its July meeting Tuesday evening, the business portion of which began with council voting unanimously to approve second and final reading of an ordinance establishing an “Economic Development Incentive Program” to encourage private businesses to invest in the “A-1/Central Business District” in the downtown area.
Under the program, a business that invests $250,000 or more in downtown Union will be reimbursed for some of the costs involved in doing business in the city.
The report recommending the passage of the ordinance states that council held a recent workshop to determine the viability of establishing an economic development incentives program to support the long-range success of the city. It states that other municipalities across South Carolina offer similar programs that serve as a catalyst to implement growth, revitalization and redevelopment that will encourage private investment.
It further states that the A-1/Central Business District has been identified as the primary area to implement the program. The district is located in downtown Union and encompasses an area that includes a section of Main Street as well Enterprise Street, North Herndon Street, Pinckney Street, Academy Street, Moore Street, South Street, Palmer Street, Hunter Street, Sharpe Avenue, and Skyline Drive.
The incentives offered to businesses by the program include:
— A one-time reimbursement of 100 percent of capacity fees.
— A one-time reimbursement of building permit fees.
— The annual reimbursement for up to five years of 50 percent of business license fees.
— The annual reimbursement for up to five years of 50 percent of hospitality taxes.
— The annual reimbursement for up to five years of 50 percent of accommodations taxes.
To qualify for the program, a business must make a “minimum threshold investment” of $250,000. The report states this requirement can be satisfied by “any combination of real property acquisition costs; costs of physical improvements to real property; or costs of capital improvements to city infrastructure.”
The report states that by offering the incentives the city is hoping to achieve the following goals:
— Promote the construction of new buildings or the rehabilitation of existing buildings.
— Support the establishment of the categories of new businesses that council determines will significantly increase overall commercial activity within the city; attract city residents and tourists into the city; and increase property values within the city.
The report further states that while the incentives offered will benefit those receiving them, the primary beneficiaries will be the city and its residents who will realize the following benefits:
— Increase property values within the city.
— Increased revenue from property taxes, business license fees, and permit fees.
— Increased tourism and commercial activity within the city.
— Improvement of the character of the city by preserving historic buildings within the city and promoting the construction of new buildings that are compatible with its historic character.
Purchase And Sales Agreement
Council also voted unanimously to approve second and final reading of a purchase and sales agreement between the city and a firm called KG Plus, LLC, allowing the city to sell and KG Plus, LLC to buy 0.53 acre of land in the Union Industrial Park.
The ordinance also authorizes the renegotiation and revision of the terms of a lease between the city and Timken Industrial Services, LLC.
It states that both the sale and the modification of the lease agreement are related to the closure of the southernmost portion of Independence Avenue in the Union Industrial Park.
The ordinance also allows the execution of an access agreement to allow access to the property.
Water System Improvements
Council also voted unanimously to award bids for the following municipal water system improvement projects to the following contractors for the following bids:
• Water Treatment Plant Settling Tube Replacement to Smith Backhoe & Construction for $121,325.
• Union Industrial Park Greenbriar Road Water Line to Double R Utilities, Inc. for $119,937.
Needs Assessment Finalization
Council also voted unanimously to prioritize the projects on the City of Union Needs Assessment List to allow the city to apply this year for Community Development Block Grant Funding for those projects.
The report recommending the prioritization of the projects on the list states that “in order to apply for grant funding the city must have a current Priority Needs List. Currently, the city is considering applying for funding to purchase a new Class A fire engine to replace a 1994 model currently owned by the city. If the project is ranked in the top three to five on the list, the project will be more competitive for grant funding when the list is reviewed by CDBG staff at the SC Department of Commerce. The next round of funding for the Community Development Block Grant program is September of 2017. Applications should be request on or before August 15, 2017.”
This is the Cityof Union’s current Priorized Community Needs List.
1. Replace 1994 model fire truck.
2. Infrastructure improvements to the Monarch, Ottaray, and Buffalo Mill Village areas in cooperation with Union County and infrastructure improvements in the Foster Street area and continue revitalization efforts in the Union Mill Village.
3. Demolition of dilapidated houses in the City of Union.
4. Upgrade of sidewalk, water, services, and drainage and street problems in the city.
5. Seek ways to conduct neighborhood improvements in the Carson and Cornwell Street neighborhoods.
6. Continue revitalization efforts in downtown Union such as streetscape, building renovation, and beautification projects.
7. Increase available affordable housing for low and moderate income, disabled and elderly citizens.
8. Continue activities to support economic development in order to create jobs for low and moderate income persons.
9. Roadway safety improvements.
10. Improve and expand recreation, health care and cultural facilities.
11. Construct parking and pedestrian improvement adjacent to planned events center in downtown.
12. Implement a gatewy and beautification plan.
13. Promote fair housing opportunities to all citizens.
Council also voted unanimously to approve a resolution adopting an updated version of the city’s financial policies.
The adoption of the updated version of the city’s financial policies as part of city’s preparation of data and updating financial documents to present to bond rating agencies to obtain a bond rating for the city. The recommending approval of the resolution states that “a bond rating will give the City a broader market access to borrowing. Also, by receiving an ‘A’ rating the debt service reserve funds held as a reserve our outstanding SRF debt will be released and returned to the City.”
Council also voted unanimously to sponsor the Union County Pep Rally at $500.
The Union County Pep Rally is hosted each year by WBCU and Holcombe Funeral Home to celebrate the start of a new school year with live entertainment, free food, t-shirts, and give-a-ways. This year’s event will be held at the Union County Fairgrounds on Thursday, Aug. 10 from 5-8 p.m.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.