Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, is an agreement in which a city uses county school and county government tax revenue to redevelop a small section of their city. Under the TIF law, a city must limit the size of the redevelopment project. In the TIF agreement between the Clemson city council, Pickens County School Board and Pickens County Council, the cost estimate for the TIF was $11.4 million ($9.4 million for construction and $2 million for bond interest). That is, the school board and county council committed to the spending of only $11.4 million on the Clemson improvement projects.
Due to the growth of Clemson University, all property in Clemson has appreciated greatly so the TIF is generating $21.2 million in revenue. The Clemson City Council wants to take the entire $21.2 million and spend it. The county and school district committed to the spending of only $11.4 million. The difference or excess is $10 million and that is the basis for the lawsuit against the Clemson Council.
Representatives from the school board and county council met with members of the city of Clemson twice. We offered splitting the difference of $10 million and settling for $5 million. Clemson rejected it. Last Monday night, the school board voted on whether or not to join the county in suing the city of Clemson for the excess $10 million.
The question I had to ask myself before this vote was, do I want our education tax dollars spent on beautifying downtown Clemson or do I want it spent on hiring more classroom teachers or buying textbooks for students? I voted to support the lawsuit.
Pickens County School Board Trustee