City Agreement Allows Theater To Have a Season
Clinton Council learns there is a way to raise $14M for police-fire and recreation complexes.
After a closed session of 1 hour and 55 minutes, Clinton City Council authorized a new contract for the performing arts center, The Gillam Center, on Sept. 30.
That allows the Laurens County Community Theatre to move ahead for an abbreviated 2019-20 season on this schedule:
-- “Anne of Green Gables,” Nov. 21, 22, 23; and Nov. 23 and 24 matinees;
-- “See How They Run,” Jan. 24, 25, 30, 31; and Feb. 1 matinee;
-- “Willy Wonka Jr.” March 13, 14, 19, 20; and March 21 matinee;
-- “The Kitchen Witches,” May 29, 30, June 4, 5; and June 6 matinee.
The theater company had been displaced by renovations to The Gillam Center during the development of Thornwell Charter School. The new contract is for 6 months.
Before that action, council conducted an hour-long discussion about - but made no decision on - issuing a $14 million bond.
Most on council seem reluctant to do so, as it would cost Clinton taxpayers an increase of 25 mils on their annual property tax bill. It would cost more, in dollars, for people who own houses to rent.
The upside is this: both the new Police-Fire Center and the Recreation Complex could be built at the same time. Once construction is done, the City of Clinton would have two, new public-use facilities - up and running - and then would have the obligation of paying for them, on a 20-year or a 30-year payment plan.
Bond Attorney Lawrence Flynn, from Pope Flynn LLC, said banks likely could be easily sold on loaning money for a new Police-Fire Center. “It is an essential public service,” Flynn said.
The Recreation Center could be a little more difficult sell, he said. But interest rates are at an all-time low, and now is the time to consider borrowing, Flynn said.
He said a special financing method - Installment Purchase Revenue Bonds - would help the city get around a state law that limits municipal and county borrowing to 8% of assessed property valuation. In Clinton’s case, borrowing the maximum amount under the 8% clause would generate just $950,000 (the assessed value of the city’s property is $12 million). Flynn said the city could borrow this money annually, and pay it off annually through city revenues.
Doing that would just about cover the cost of forming a LLC and leasing back from this corporation a Police-Fire Center that the corporation would build with the city’s guidance. Flynn said school districts have built new schools this way.
“The Installment Purchase Revenue Bonds are no longer available for school districts, but it is available for cities and counties,” Flynn said.
The city estimates that a new Police-Fire Center and the already designed Recreation Complex each will cost $7 million.
The city plans to tear down the current Police-Fire Center (formerly public safety and the former city hall on North Broad Street). Once cleared, the city would use that land and an adjoining property that used to hold a library as the footprint for the new building.
The Recreation Complex is going to be built on Hwy 56, just beyond the Clinton Presbyterian Community, headed toward I-26. It could be constructed with hospitality money, but that would require construction in phases over several years. Flynn said if the city borrows the money to build the Recreation Complex, it could use the annual proceeds from the hospitality tax to operate the complex.
Combined, the $14 million price tag would mean city taxes would go up 20-25 mils. One mil of tax in the City of Clinton generates $14,400. Owners of primary residences pay on a 4% assessment; owners of secondary residences, including rentals, pay on a 6% assessment.
The proceeds from this bond, should the city decide to sell it, cannot be used for salaries.