“The size of the TIF was to be about $8 million. The city has already received that amount of money and more, but is slated to get another 5 years of school and county tax revenue,” said Pickens County Resident Weldon Clark. “That is excessive and violates the agreement. That extra money should be used to hire teachers and fix our roads and bridges, not to be lavishly spent on Clemson’s wants and pet projects.”
The council voted 5-1 on the issue, with Councilman Jeff Martin being the only one who opposed. County Administrator Chappell Hurst says this was the only way to proceed.
“They’ve had an attorney there from the beginning and it seems to me that we are already in a legal action,” said Hurst. “We were told, essentially, that there was no other way to go forward except through legal action.”
Martin, who was against the issue, strongly requested that the council not go this far just yet.
“I would ask our council to delay legal action at this time,” said Martin. “Once you take legal action, all opportunity for discussion closes.”
Other members objected to that idea.
“The City of Clemson is historically very arrogant when dealing with issues like this,” said Councilman Tom Ponder. “I’m ready to draw a line in the dirt with them.”
Councilman Neil Smith agreed with Ponder, saying, “We have been taking our kid’s money to build city facilities,” he said.
Residents such as Clark say this was the only way for the council to go.
“They’ve (the City of Clemson) exceeded the original TIF and they’re basically breaking the contract,” said Clark. “It’s a lot of money and they have been bending the rules.”
Clark says what Clemson what Clemson was doing was wrong, and they needed to be held accountable.
“The thing you have to realize is that the people in the cities and the towns get to vote in the county elections, but the people in the county don’t get to vote in the city elections,” said Clark. “So, when a city grossly exceeds what they were supposed to do under that TIF, what they’re doing is taking the tax money that we will have to make up.”