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Annexation makes dollars and sence
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Dear editor: Richmond Hill desperately needs to grow its way out of the legacy of debt left to us by the previous administration. We are paying for an $800,000 amphitheatre and a $6 million city center that bleeds red about $40,000 every month. The debt service alone on the project costs us $26,000 per month.
Thanks to one more year of SPLOST funds and an increase in revenue generated this past year with the local option sales tax, we are not looking at a millage rate increase or a cut in services. However, come 2012, there will no longer be $24,000 per month coming in from SPLOST. Undoubtedly, we will still be wasting taxpayers’ money on the city center. And there is little indication that we will see a miraculous overnight housing market recovery or a new building boom to offset the loss.
We are going to need a new revenue source, or be facing higher taxes or drastic budget cuts. Terrapointe’s Belfast Business Center is exactly what Richmond Hill needs to prepare for our financial future. I urge all citizens to come out to city hall on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and let the council know loud and clear that we want new industry, new opportunity and new jobs in Richmond Hill.
Terrapointe’s Belfast Business Center will bring tax revenue, desirable jobs and new residents to Richmond Hill. Contrary to fear-breeding rumor, the cost of the annexation will be paid by Terrapointe, not by city of Richmond Hill taxpayers.
Mayor Harold Fowler and Josh Fenn, the executive director of the Development Authority of Bryan County, have been diligently working with Terrapointe to secure the necessary water and sewer agreements, land and resources for a fire station and the other essential infrastructure needed to create a 21st century business park. An additional 900 acres of developed tax base will add revenue to the city’s coffers, revenue we need to pay for our past mistakes.
It is estimated that 400 hi-tech and skilled manufacturing jobs could be created within three years, and as many as 2,600 jobs could be added within 11 years. This business center has already been looked at by companies that had to go elsewhere, as we were not ready. South Bryan County has something no one else nearby can offer – a potential business center close to both I-95 and I-16, between two major shipping ports, with rail capability. This is a goldmine for us.
New quality jobs at the Belfast Business Center will bring new residents. We need these new residents who will work, live and shop in Richmond Hill. Currently, there is a 13-month supply of homes for sale in Richmond Hill/South Bryan County under $350,000 and a depressing 35-month supply of homes for sale over $350,000. A healthy, neutral housing market has only a four- to six-month supply. No wonder there is over $22 million dollars worth of property in South Bryan County and Richmond Hill being foreclosed on right now, scheduled to go to the courthouse steps in November – one month’s worth of foreclosures alone, $22 million dollars.
We need to rally and represent! If you want your house to stop sinking in value, if you want local job creation, if you want to sell or build more homes, if you want more diners in your restaurant or shoppers in your store, show up at city hall on Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. and let the council know we want them to work with the mayor and the Development Authority of Bryan County and bring Terrapointe’s Belfast Business Center to town. It just makes dollars and sense!

Amy Tavio
Richmond Hill
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