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York County vote on Carolina Panthers site plan at Rock Hill SC

By March 22, 2022March 23rd, 2022Site plan

A surprise vote Monday night could get the Carolina Panthers headquarters project in Rock Hill back under construction.

York County Council voted 4-3 for a resolution that would commit the county to take “all necessary steps to execute and deliver” a fee agreement with the team, according to the motion brought forward by Councilman Joel Hamilton. The motion would authorize fees rather than taxes “as we discussed in depth during the executive session,” Hamilton said.

There weren’t many details on the plan since it wasn’t on the county’s agenda Monday. More details on the restructured financial package will come later.

Council members who backed the decision Monday night said it signaled to the Panthers that the county was serious about the project and put people back to work at the site.

Hamilton said he thought the incentive deal discussed during Monday night’s executive session was better than the one previously negotiated. It’s growth that pays for growth, he said, and puts the site’s tax revenue back into it.

“We’re not talking about giving money away,” Hamilton said. “We are talking about an investment in public goods.”

According to the county, this does not involve any government entity borrowing funds. These are special source income credits. With the deal, the county wouldn’t see tax revenue from the site — it would go to public infrastructure there — for 30 years.

“I think it’s very important that we continue to fight on behalf of the Carolina Panthers and one of the biggest booms in economic development, whether it’s five, 10, 15, 20 or 30 years from now,” Councilor Allison Love said.

Council held its typical business meeting and then spent almost three hours in closed executive session. The Board returned and suspended its rules of procedure for voting on the Panthers’ deal.

President Christi Cox, who voted against the resolution with members Tom Audette and Robert Winkler, said the vote was out of order.

“I don’t believe that’s the way the county should do business,” Cox said.

Cox did not vote in favor of the original incentive agreement reached between the county, the team, the town of Rock Hill and the school district that committed future tax revenues to public infrastructure – roads, utilities – related to the project off I-77. Cox said she wanted the project, but feared the new resolution would commit an additional $57 million in incentives to get it. His biggest concern is public transparency.

“I decline to do so when I believe our process has not been followed and it results in additional expense that taxpayers have not had a chance to speak out against,” Cox said.

Winkler, who spearheads many economic development projects in his role on the council, said he owes it to his constituents not to back a plan that has come forward so quickly.

“That resolution was not on the agenda tonight,” Winkler said. “It wasn’t in an email to us. I didn’t see it until the executive session tonight.

Hamilton said he shared his concern and discomfort with how the vote went. Yet he also spoke of a generational project that is likely the biggest any council member will ever see in the area. A project the county stands to lose, he said, without quick action.

“I also have great concern for the hundreds of men and women who have worked tirelessly day in and day out on this site to get this project off the ground and whose jobs are currently under threat and may not return,” Hamilton said.

Earlier this month, Tepper Sports & Entertainment, representing the Charlotte-based NFL team, announced it would put the Rock Hill headquarters site project on hold due to missed payment deadlines. The City of Rock Hill says it did not miss deadlines from a previous incentive agreement. The construction of the first phase was due to be completed next year.

“Given the economic realities, the difficult but prudent decision has been made to put the project on hold,” Tepper Sports said in a statement in early March. “Ongoing work will continue with our partners to find an economically acceptable solution for all parties to continue this project at Rock Hill.”

In early March, Rock Hill officials said in a statement that the city was unaware of a planned pause in construction and intended to continue to honor its agreement with the Panthers.

Early Tuesday, Rock Hill officials said the city had no further comment on the matter.

A spokesperson for Tepper Sports & Entertainment declined to comment.

Councilman William “Bump” Roddey has been asking Rock Hill officials for the past two weeks to contact the county for help. He agrees that the timing of the resolution was not ideal.

“It happened to us very quickly,” Roddey said. “It probably put the staff in one of the most difficult positions.”

Still, he said, the project is too big for the county to miss.

“It’s not the normal course of action,” Roddey said. “But I think the time we find ourselves in, the situation we face, requires us to suspend the rules and do what we must do to assure the taxpayers of York County that we still have their interests at heart. best interests.

“It’s better. It brings us back to a point where we’re going to see revenue on the bottom line much faster.”

This is a developing story. Check back later for more details.

This story was originally published March 22, 2022 10:55 a.m.

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John Marks graduated from Furman University in 2004 and joined the Herald in 2005. He covers community growth, municipalities, transportation and education primarily in York and Lancaster counties. The Fort Mill native has won dozens of South Carolina Press Association awards and several President McClatchy Awards for news coverage in Fort Mill and Lake Wylie.
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