UNION COUNTY — Nearly $90,000 was allocated and another $60,000 received during Tuesday’s Union County Council meeting during which first reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the county and “Project TRP” was approved.
In response to an invoice submitted by USC Union, council voted unanimously Tuesday to allocate $65,000 from the Economic Development Fund to the Union County Community Tuition Assistance Program. This is the second time in two years Union County has allocated funds for the program. The first time was in 2016 when the program was established. At that time council allocated $65,000 but as of Tuesday’s council meeting only $11,000 remained of the original allocation. The invoice from USC Union was for $23,666 and so council allocated another $65,000 to cover it and to help continue funding the program.
The Community Tuition Assistance Program was launched in 2016 by Union County, Spartanburg Community College, USC Union, and the Union County School District. The goal of the program is to help UCHS seniors continue their education after high school
A high school student’s decision to continue their education after graduation could be worth as much as $3 million over the course of that student’s lifetime and Union County is offering tuition assistance to help Union County High School seniors make that choice. In announcing the launch of the program, Union County Supervisor Frank Hart pointed out that, for various reasons, half of all graduating seniors will not continue their education, a decision that could prove costly to them, because those who do will have enjoy wages at least 20 percent higher than those who don’t.
In some cases, however, Hart said those who continue their education beyond high school can command wages as much 70 percent higher than those who don’t, adding that high school graduates who continue their education can earn anywhere from $1 million-$3 million more than those who stopped their education upon graduation.
Furthermore, Hart said continuing their education after high school can give seniors greater job security, pointing that during a recession when businesses lay off personnel and eliminate positions, those who did not continue their education after high school are 42-92 percent more likely to find themselves without a job than those who continued their education.
Hart said that based on the past, approximately 40 percent of graduating UCHS seniors will choose not to continue their education after they graduate. He said that was 40 percent too many and the county, the school district, SCC, and USC Union aim to change that with the Community Tuition Assistance Program.
According to a brochure presented to the seniors, the purpose of the Community Tuition Assistance Program is “to provide access to post high school education and training programs to ensure businesses have skilled workers and residents have the knowledge needed to compete for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow.”
The brochure states that the county, the school district, SCC, and USC Union developed the program to “address barriers to post-secondary education and critical shortages in Union County’s workforce.”
One of those barriers is the cost of getting a post-secondary education and Hart said the Community Tuition Assistance Program addresses that by paying for the first two years of that education. Hart said that through the program, graduating seniors will be able to attend USC Union or the Spartanburg Community College — Union Campus tuition-free. He said this means that those who choose to take advantage of the program will be able to get their first two years of post-secondary education at no cost to them and/or their families.
Inmate Medical Contract
Council also voted unanimously to allocate $21,949 from the Capital Expenditures Fund for the Inmate Medical Contract. The funds will go to provide medical care for the inmates at the Union County Jail and the Union County Detention Center.
Even as it was allocating nearly $90,000 Tuesday, council was presented with a total of $60,000 from Republic Services, LLC which owns and operates the Union County Landfill in Cross Keys.
Republic Services, LLC Division Manager Tony Davies presented the county with a check for $40,000 and one for $20,000 during Tuesday’s meeting.
The funds are part of the host agreement the county entered into with Republic in 2016 in which the company agreed to give the county $40,000 a year for the next five years to fund litter control and $20,000 a year for the next five years to support upgrades and programming at the Spartanburg Community College — Union Campus.
The checks Davies presented at Tuesday’s meeting are the third installments on that part of the host agreement with the county.
The agreement will last for the life of the landfill which is estimated to be 70 years or more and during that time Republic will pay the county host fees of approximately $1.5 million a year. This is expected to generate more than $100 million in revenue for the county over the life of the landfill.
In addition, Republic will continue to accept waste from the county and its constituent municipalities at no charge to the county or the municipalities.
In other business, council voted unanimously to approve first reading of an ordinance authorizing a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement between the county and Project TRP.
The ordinance states that under the agreement the county will “accept certain negotiated fees in lieu of ad valorem taxes and provide certain special source revenue credits with respect to the establishment and/or expansion of certain facilities in the county” and provide “certain other development incentives” to the project.
Project TRP could be a code name for a new industry or the expansion of an existing industry. It is a common practice in economic development when agreements are being negotiated between a public entity like the county and a private entity like a business or industry, for the former to assign the latter a code name. The code name remains in place until the process is completed when the identity of the private entity is announced.
When asked about the identity of Project TRP, Hart declined to reveal it, saying only that “it is additional investment in Union County so we’re excited about it.”
Council also voted unanimously to approve first reading by title only of the 2018-2019 budget ordinance.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.