Thursday, July 28, 2005

Holly Springs gets ready for growth

By SUE WATSON
Staff Writer

The Holly Springs Board of Aldermen passed resolutions last week that will improve electricity service in the Slayden/Mt. Pleasant area and get Holly Springs Commons rolling.

The board passed resolutions to upgrade the Mt. Pleasant/Slayden substation in the short term. A new $3.5 million substation is on the planning board for the Mt. Pleasant/Slayden area. The board adopted resolutions for a plan to present to Tennessee Valley Authority for the new substation which will take three to five years to complete, if approved by TVA.

Don Hollingsworth, with Holly Springs Utility Department (HSUD), said a $100,000 expenditure to buy two large transformers for the Slayden substation are needed now to alleviate power outages in that area and to improve service to customers in Ashland. The transformers will be purchased from Central Electric Power Association in Carthage. They are used ones.

The new substation will require major construction including high tension lines. The work will pave the way for growth in the northern portion of the county, Hollingsworth said.

The board authorized resolutions supporting a tax increment financing (TIF) plan for Holly Springs Commons, at Hollingsworth’s recommendation.

Developers of Holly Springs Commons will use the resolution to obtain bank loans to build new streets, curbs, gutters and sidewalks in lieu of the work being done by the City of Holly Springs, Hollingsworth said.

The loan will be paid off by sales and property tax revenues that come in from new businesses that go in at the Commons. The developer will have to pay interest on the loans.

Hollingsworth said communities like Tupelo and Oxford are doing similar TIF plans that help get these projects on the ground quickly. Cities benefit by not having to undertake the financing themselves and the loans are paid off with new revenues.

TIF plans are authorized for commercial development nationwide, he said, in cases where municipalities want to build commercial enterprises but the streets and utility costs are “too much to float,” Hollingsworth said.

“So, the contractor builds the streets, curbs and gutters and sells his land to retailers and they build,” Hollingsworth said. “He (the developer) has to generate taxes and sales tax that will go to reimburse his expenses for his outlay.”

Hollingsworth explained that Tourism Tax collected from food establishments that go in the Commons and school taxes against the property will still be collected and put toward their required uses according to law. Only the sales taxes and property taxes generated go to pay off the developer’s bonds, he said.

“This type of development, there is no way the city can do it,” he said. “You can get $5 an acre (in taxes) from the land now. You won’t reap the benefits until it is paid off.”

He estimated it will take from five to 10 years to collect enough new taxes to pay for the costs of the new streets, sidewalks, curbs and gutters, and the TIF plan which is authorized by the resolution.

He said the burden is on the developer to rent or sell lots and generate revenues to pay off the loan.

The TIF plan will require the services of an urban planner and engineer and cost about $25,000, Hollingsworth said. That expense will be “rolled in” to the bond and if the TIF does not work, the planner does not get paid, he said.

The board passed a motion to retain Jimmy Gouras as consultant to prepare the TIF plan and application.

In other business, the board:

  • passed a motion to write off $65,276 in uncollected bills at HSUD as delinquent. The move allows HSUD to turn the uncollected bills over to a collection agency.

    The credit plan adopted in February 2005 which allows HSUD’s collection agency to turn in uncollectible bills to consumer credit reports is working, according to Tom Boone, director of the electric department. He said customers pay their delinquent bills when they go to buy a house, car or appliance and cannot get the loan without clearing their credit record.

  • received a report from the Information Technology Department. Director Ken Robinson said he is designing the city’s website. Departments will be able to post application forms and other forms for consumers. Users will be able to copy those forms from the Internet, fill them out and bring them in to City Hall or the appropriate department, he said.

    He presented a draft of a technology use policy for aldermen to study. Robinson said the policy is needed since computers used by departments have no policy that pops up on the computer screen when a worker logs on.

  • authorized accounts for Information Technology to serve Work Force Development grants and to deposit revenues generated at the IT Center.

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