By: Robin Ford Wallace, Reporter
independent Industrial Development Authority agreed at its regular August
meeting on Friday to do a favor for the county even as it works toward
fulfilling its own industry-recruitment goals: Bond $1.5 million for emergency
road repairs for the county in conjunction with a million of its own to be
spent on IDA’s new industrial park expansion.
Executive Chairman Ted Rumley addressed IDA’s board of directors at the Aug. 16
session in favor of the bond issue, which is essentially a government entity’s
method of borrowing money to complete urgent projects. County Attorney Robin
Rogers explained the reason for the shared loan: “You can’t really do a bond
issue for 1.5. It’s just not large enough.”
The county pays
for much of its roadwork with SPLOST (special purpose local option sales tax)
funds, but SPLOSTs must be approved by referendum, and Dade County, which lost
several county roads to 2013’s torrential rains, needs the money now, said
had long discussed bonding money to develop the 200-odd acres of the old
Olgiati farm it bought to expand the county’s existing industrial complex. To
attract prospective tenants, IDA’s sole employee, Peter Cervelli, has told the
board repeatedly, the raw acreage needs electricity, sewer hookups, engineering
work and above all, roads. The IDA’s million would go toward that, he said.
“It won’t get
everything done … but it would make significant headway,” said Cervelli.
Part of the IDA
share may also go toward purchasing 70 acres of the Olgiati land not included
in the original purchase, Cervelli specified.
intergovernmental arrangement, the county will be responsible for making
payments on its $1.5 million while IDA will separately service the debt on its
smaller portion. “I don’t know about the
county but I hope our intent is to pay those funds back as soon as possible,”
said IDA Chairman Nathan Wooten.
business, IDA approved letters to go out to Dade’s three taxing authorities,
the Dade County Commission, Trenton City Commission and Dade Board of
Education, asking their consent for tax incentives IDA proposes offering
industries to lure them to Dade. These include free land and zero taxes for
five to 10 years for businesses that promise to bring in enough jobs.
board members that the tax authorities weren’t really being asked to give up
much. “The big thing is, they’re not
waiving any funds that they’re getting today,” he said.
Rogers confirmed that IDA didn’t anyway have to ask permission. “We’ve always
done that but we’re not technically required to,” he said.
advantage IDA can offer industry, put in Cervelli, is leasing land as opposed
to selling it: As long as IDA owns the property, no real estate taxes may be
levied on it.
Still on the
subject of land sales, Wooten announced that the sale of IDA’s Piney acreage, a
$350,000 deal, had closed shortly before.
the board through an exhaustive list of improvements it may or may not wish to
make to the Olgiati land – underground electricity as opposed to power lines?
Railroad overpass? – that would gobble up the million dollars in bond money and
then some. He estimated the cost for basic infrastructure between $1.5 and $2.4
And he also
warned that IDA’s new website might need more money thrown at it to be
effective. It had gotten a hit from Moscow and another from India, but few
enough overall that those might be accidents, said Cervelli. “Google’s
algorithms say you’re not important enough to show up,” he said. “I think we’re
going to have to spend some money on search engine customization.”
IDA was canceling its regularly monthly luncheons for local businesspeople due
to sporadic attendance but would announce special ones as occasion demands.
mentioned efforts by Dade High School and Northwest Georgia to open a joint
enrollment vocational training facility in Dade. He said that such facilities
were vital to prospective industries and that one business he knew of had
actually returned to the U.S. from having outsourced abroad for access to a
well-trained job force. “They want to know they can get their people trained,”
IDA meets the
third Friday of each month at 3 p.m. in the Commission Room of the Dade County