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Title 6 - Local Government - Provisions Applicable to Special Purpose Districts and Other Political Subdivisions
TAX INCREMENT FINANCING FOR COUNTIES
This chapter may be cited as the "Tax Increment Financing Act for Counties".
Legislative findings and intent; essential government functions; powers jointly exercised.
(A) The General Assembly finds that:
(1) Section 14(10) of Article X of the Constitution of South Carolina provides that the General Assembly may authorize by general law that indebtedness for the purpose of redevelopment within counties may be incurred and that the debt service of such indebtedness be provided from the added increments of tax revenues to result from the project.
(2) An increasing demand for public services must be provided from a limited tax base. Incentives must be provided for redevelopment in areas which are, or threaten to become, predominantly slum or blighted.
(3) There exist in many counties of this State blighted, conservation, and sprawl areas; the sprawl and conservation areas are rapidly deteriorating and declining and may soon become blighted areas if their decline is not checked; the stable economic and physical development of the blighted areas, conservation areas, and sprawl areas are endangered by the presence of blighting factors as manifested by progressive and advanced deterioration of structures, by the overuse of housing and other facilities, by a lack of physical maintenance of existing structures, by obsolete and inadequate community facilities, and a lack of sound community planning, by obsolete platting, diversity of ownership, excessive tax and special assessment delinquencies, or by a combination of these factors; that as a result of the existence of blighted areas, areas requiring conservation, and sprawl areas, there is an excessive and disproportionate expenditure of public funds, inadequate public and private investment, unmarketability of property, growth in delinquencies and crime, and housing and zoning law violations in such areas together with an abnormal exodus of families and businesses so that the decline of these areas impairs the value of private investments and threatens the sound growth and the tax base of taxing districts in such areas, and threatens the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the public.
(4) In order to promote and protect the health, safety, morals, and welfare of the public, blighted conditions need to be eradicated and conservation measures instituted, sprawl areas controlled, and redevelopment of such areas undertaken; to remove and alleviate adverse conditions it is necessary to encourage private investment and restore and enhance the tax base of the taxing districts in such areas by the redevelopment of project areas. The eradication of blighted areas and treatment and improvement of sprawl areas and conservation areas by redevelopment projects is declared to be essential to the public interest.
(5) The use of incremental tax revenues derived from the tax rates of various taxing districts in redevelopment project areas for the payment of redevelopment project costs is of benefit to the taxing districts because taxing districts located in redevelopment project areas would not derive the benefits of an increased assessment base without the benefits of tax increment financing. All surplus tax revenues are turned over to the taxing districts in redevelopment project areas, and all taxing districts benefit from the removal of blighted conditions, the eradication of conditions requiring conservation measures, and control of sprawl conditions.
(B) The General Assembly intends to implement the authorization granted in Article X, Section 14 of the Constitution of this State. The authorization in this chapter provides for this State an essential method for financing redevelopment. The governing bodies of the counties are vested with all powers consistent with the Constitution necessary, useful, and desirable to enable them to accomplish redevelopment in areas which are or threaten to become blighted and to sufficiently meet all constitutional requirements pertaining to incurring indebtedness for the purpose of redevelopment and funding the debt service of such indebtedness from the added increment of tax revenues to result from such redevelopment as provided in Section 14(10) of Article X of the Constitution of this State. The indebtedness incurred pursuant to Section 14(10) of Article X of the Constitution is exempt from all debt limitations imposed by Article X. The powers granted in this chapter must be in all respects exercised for the benefit of the inhabitants of the State, for the increase of its commerce, and for the promotion of its welfare and prosperity.
(C) All action taken by any county in carrying out the purposes of this chapter shall perform essential governmental functions.
(D) Pursuant to the authorization granted in Article VIII, Section 13 of the Constitution of this State, if a redevelopment project area is located in more than one county, the powers granted herein may be exercised jointly.
Unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(1) "Blighted area" means any improved or vacant area within the boundaries of a redevelopment project area located within the territorial limits of a county where:
(a) if improved, industrial, commercial, and residential buildings or improvements, because of a combination of five or more of the following factors: age; dilapidation; obsolescence; deterioration; illegal use of individual structures; presence of structures below minimum code standards; excessive vacancies; overcrowding of structures and community facilities; lack of ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities; inadequate utilities; excessive land coverage; deleterious land use or layout; depreciation of physical maintenance; lack of community planning, are detrimental to the public safety, health, morals, or welfare; or
(b) if vacant, the sound growth is impaired by:
(i) a combination of two or more of the following factors: obsolete platting of the vacant land; diversity of ownership of such land; tax and special assessment delinquencies on such land; deterioration of structures or site improvements in neighboring areas adjacent to the vacant land; or
(ii) the area immediately prior to becoming vacant qualified as a blighted area. Any area within a redevelopment plan established by Chapter 10 of Title 31 is deemed to be a blighted area.
(2) "Conservation area" means any vacant or improved area within the boundaries of a redevelopment project area located within the territorial limits of a county that is not yet a blighted area but, because of a combination of three or more of the following factors: dilapidation; obsolescence; deterioration; illegal use of structures; presence of structures below minimum code standards; abandonment; excessive vacancies; overcrowding of structures and community facilities; lack of ventilation, light, or sanitary facilities; inadequate utilities; excessive land coverage; depreciation of physical maintenance; or lack of community planning, is detrimental to the public safety, health, morals, or welfare and may become a blighted area.
(3) "Sprawl area" means a vacant or improved area within the boundaries of a redevelopment project area located within the territorial limits of the unincorporated area of a county that is not yet a blighted area nor a conservation area but, because of the existence of one or more of the following conditions, has the potential to become blighted or in need of conservation:
(a) The sprawl area is an unincorporated urban zone, UUZ, which is an area within the unincorporated portion of the county issuing the finding and has a population density equal to or greater than the average population density of the incorporated municipalities within the territorial limits of the county issuing the finding.
(b) The sprawl area is a linear service zone, LSZ, which is an area within the unincorporated portion of the county issuing the finding which is or is likely to become an area no more than two miles wide at its widest point and no less than three miles in length and which, due to development within the zone, represents an impediment to vehicular and pedestrian traffic so that the county finds its existence a detriment to the:
(i) economic health and well-being of the county;
(ii) health or safety of the persons living, working, or traveling through the zone; or
(iii) efficient provision of governmental services both within and without the zone.
(c) The sprawl area is a rural redevelopment zone, RRZ, which is an area within the unincorporated portion of the county issuing the finding which consists primarily of vacant land which, if provided with certain environmental, energy, transportation, or communications infrastructure, could be developed as a planned community consisting of a minimum of one thousand contiguous acres of land, inclusive of flooded land.
(4) "Municipality" means an incorporated municipality of this State.
(5) "Obligations" means bonds, notes, or other evidence of indebtedness issued by the county to carry out a redevelopment project or to refund outstanding obligations.
(6) "Redevelopment plan" means the comprehensive program of the county for redevelopment intended by the payment of redevelopment costs to reduce or eliminate those conditions which qualified the redevelopment project area as a blighted area, conservation area, or sprawl area, or combination of two or three of them, and to enhance the tax bases of the taxing districts which extend into the project redevelopment area. Each redevelopment plan shall set forth in writing the program to be undertaken to accomplish the objectives and shall include, but not be limited to, estimated redevelopment project costs, the anticipated sources of funds to pay costs, the nature and term of any obligations to be issued, the most recent equalized assessed valuation of the project area, an estimate as to the equalized assessed valuation after redevelopment, and the general land uses to apply in the redevelopment project area. A redevelopment plan established by Chapter 10 of Title 31 is deemed a redevelopment plan for purposes of this item.
(7) "Redevelopment project" means any buildings, improvements, including street improvements, water, sewer and storm drainage facilities, parking facilities, and recreational facilities. Any project or undertaking authorized under Section 6-21-50 may also qualify as a redevelopment project under this chapter. All such projects are to be publicly owned.
(8) "Redevelopment project area" means an area designated by the county, which is not less in the aggregate than one and one-half acres and in respect to which the county has made a finding that there exist conditions that cause the area to be classified as a blighted area, a conservation area, or a sprawl area, or a combination of two or three of them. The total aggregate amount of all redevelopment project areas of any one county may not exceed five percent of the total acreage of the county.
(9) "Redevelopment project costs" means and includes the sum total of all reasonable or necessary costs incurred or estimated to be incurred and any costs incidental to a redevelopment project. The costs include, without limitation:
(a) costs of studies and surveys, plans, and specifications; professional service costs including, but not limited to, architectural, engineering, legal, marketing, financial, planning, or special services;
(b) property assembly costs including, but not limited to, acquisition of land and other property, real or personal, or rights or interest therein, demolition of buildings, and the clearing and grading of land;
(c) costs of rehabilitation, reconstruction, repair, or remodeling of a redevelopment project;
(d) costs of the construction of a redevelopment project;
(e) financing costs including, but not limited to, all necessary and incidental expenses related to the issuance of obligations and which may include payment of interest on any obligations issued under the provisions of this chapter accruing during the estimated period of construction of any redevelopment project for which the obligations are issued and including reasonable reserves related thereto;
(f) relocation costs to the extent that a county determines that relocation costs must be paid or required by federal or state law.
(10) "Taxing districts" means counties, incorporated municipalities, schools, special purpose districts, and public and any other municipal corporations or districts with the power to levy taxes. Taxing districts include school districts which have taxes levied on their behalf.
(11) "Vacant land" means any parcel or combination of parcels of real property without industrial, commercial, and residential buildings.
(12) "County" means any county in the State.
Obligations and pledges authorized; surplus fund distributions.
Obligations secured by the special tax allocation fund set forth in Section 6-33-70 for the redevelopment project area may be issued to provide for redevelopment project costs. The obligations, when so issued, must be retired in the manner provided in the ordinance authorizing the issuance of the obligations by the receipts of taxes levied as specified in Section 6-33-110 against the taxable property included in the area and other revenue as specified in Section 6-33-110 designated by the county which source does not involve revenues from any tax or license. In the ordinance the county may pledge all or any part of the funds in and to be deposited in the special tax allocation fund created pursuant to Section 6-33-70 to the payment of the redevelopment project costs and obligations. Any pledge of funds in the special tax allocation fund must provide for distribution to the taxing districts of monies not required for payment and securing of the obligations and the excess funds are surplus funds. In the event a county only pledges a portion of the monies in the special tax allocation fund for the payment of redevelopment project costs or obligations, any funds remaining in the special tax allocation fund after complying with the requirements of the pledge are also considered surplus funds. All surplus funds must be distributed annually to the taxing districts in the redevelopment project area by being paid by the county to the county treasurer. The county treasurer shall immediately thereafter make distribution to the respective taxing districts in the same manner and proportion as the most recent distribution by the county treasurer to the affected districts of real property taxes from real property in the redevelopment project area. In addition to obligations secured by the special tax allocation fund, the county may pledge for a period not greater than the term of the obligations toward payment of the obligations any part of the revenues remaining after payment of operation and maintenance, of all or part of any redevelopment project. The obligations may be issued in one or more series, may bear such date or dates, may mature at such time or times not exceeding thirty years from their respective dates, may bear such rate or rates of interest as the governing body shall determine, may be in such denomination or denominations, may be in such form, either coupon or registered, may carry such registration and conversion privileges, may be executed in such manner, may be payable in such medium of payment, at such place or places, may be subject to such terms of redemption, with or without premium, may be declared or become due before the maturity date thereof, may provide for the replacement of mutilated, destroyed, stolen, or lost bonds, may be authenticated in such manner and upon compliance with such conditions, and may contain such other terms and covenants, as may be provided by the governing body of the county. If the governing body determines to sell any obligations, the obligations must be sold at public or private sale in such manner and upon such terms as the governing body considers best for the interest of the county.
A certified copy of the ordinance authorizing the issuance of the obligations must be filed with the treasurer of each county in which any portion of a redevelopment project is situated and shall constitute the authority for the extension and collection of the taxes to be deposited in the special tax allocation fund.
A county also may issue its obligations to refund in whole or in part obligations previously issued by the county under the authority of this chapter, whether at or prior to maturity, and all references in this chapter to obligations" are considered to include these refunding obligations. The debt incurred by a county pursuant to this chapter is exclusive of any statutory limitation upon the indebtedness a taxing district may incur. All obligations issued pursuant to this chapter shall contain a statement on the face of the obligation specifying the sources from which payment is to be made and shall state that the full faith, credit, and taxing powers are not pledged for the obligations.
The trustee or depositary under any indenture may be such persons or corporations as the governing body designates, or they may be nonresidents of South Carolina or incorporated under the laws of the United States or the laws of other states of the United States.
Application of proceeds.
The proceeds from obligations issued under authority of this chapter must be applied only for the purpose for which they were issued. Any premium and accrued interest received in any such sale must be applied to the payment of the principal of or the interest on the obligations sold. Any portion of the proceeds not needed for redevelopment project costs must be applied to the payment of the principal of or the interest on the obligations.
State tax exemptions.
The obligations authorized by this chapter and the income from the obligations and all security agreements and indentures executed as security for the obligations made pursuant to the provisions of this chapter and the revenue derived from the obligations are exempt from all taxation in the State of South Carolina except for inheritance, estate, or transfer taxes and all security agreements and indentures made pursuant to the provisions of this chapter are exempt from all state stamp and transfer taxes.
Ordinance adoption requirements and obligation retirement.
A county, within five years after the date of adoption of an ordinance providing for approval of a redevelopment plan pursuant to Section 6-33-80, may issue obligations under this chapter to finance the redevelopment project upon adoption of an ordinance providing that:
(1) after the issuance of the obligations; and
(2) after the total equalized assessed valuation of the taxable real property in a redevelopment project area exceeds the certified "total initial equalized assessed value" established in accordance with Section 6-33-100(B) of all taxable real property in the project area, the ad valorem taxes, if any, arising from the levies upon taxable real property in the project area by taxing districts and tax rates determined in the manner provided in Section 6-33-100(B) each year after the obligations have been issued until obligations issued under this chapter have been retired and redevelopment project costs have been paid must be divided as follows:
(a) that portion of taxes levied upon each taxable lot, block, tract, or parcel of real property which is attributable to the total initial equalized assessed value of all taxable real property in the redevelopment project area must be allocated to and when collected must be paid by the county treasurer to the respective affected taxing districts in the manner required by law in the absence of the adoption of the redevelopment plan; and
(b) that portion, if any, of taxes which is attributable to the increase in the current total equalized assessed valuation of all taxable real property in the redevelopment project area over and above the total initial equalized assessed value of taxable real property in the redevelopment project area must be allocated to and when collected must be paid to the county which shall deposit the taxes into a special fund called the special tax allocation fund of the county for the purpose of paying redevelopment project costs and obligations incurred in the payment of the costs and obligations. The county may pledge in the ordinance the funds in and to be deposited in the special tax allocation fund for the payment of the costs and obligations.
Any ordinance adopted based on acts of the county occurring before the effective date of this chapter must incorporate by reference and adopt those prior acts undertaken in accordance with the procedures of this chapter as if they had been undertaken pursuant to this chapter.
When obligations issued under this chapter have been retired and redevelopment project costs incurred under this chapter have been paid or budgeted pursuant to the redevelopment plan, as evidenced by resolution of the governing body of the county, all surplus funds then remaining in the special tax allocation fund must be paid by the county treasurer immediately to the taxing districts in the redevelopment project area in the same manner and proportion as the most recent distribution by the treasurer to the affected districts of real property taxes from real property in the redevelopment project area.
Upon the payment of all redevelopment project costs, retirement of all obligations of a county issued under this chapter, and the distribution of any surplus monies pursuant to this section, the county shall adopt an ordinance dissolving the tax allocation fund for the project redevelopment area and terminating the designation of the redevelopment project area as a redevelopment project area for purposes of this chapter. Thereafter, the rates of the taxing districts must be extended and taxes levied, collected, and distributed in the manner applicable in the absence of the adoption of a redevelopment plan and the issuance of obligations under this chapter.
If five years have passed from the time a redevelopment project area is designated and the county has not issued obligations under this chapter to finance the redevelopment project, upon the expiration of the five-year term, the county shall adopt an ordinance terminating the designation of the redevelopment project area.
Municipal annexation; ad valorem tax valuation.
If a municipality annexes a tract of property located in a redevelopment project area, the value of each parcel of real property therein for purposes of the ad valorem taxes of the municipality shall be that which is attributable to its initial equalized assessed value before the redevelopment project and not to the increase in its equalized assessed value due to the redevelopment project.
Conditions for issuing obligations; approving and modifying redevelopment plans.
(A) Prior to the issuance of any obligations under this chapter, the county shall set forth by way of ordinance the following:
(1) a copy of the redevelopment plan containing a statement of the objectives of a county with regard to the plan;
(2) a statement indicating the need for and proposed use of the proceeds of the obligations in relationship to the redevelopment plan;
(3) a statement containing the cost estimates of the redevelopment plan and redevelopment project and the projected sources of revenue to be used to meet the costs including estimates of tax increments and the total amount of indebtedness to be incurred;
(4) a list of all real property in the redevelopment project area;
(5) the duration of the redevelopment plan;
(6) a statement of the estimated impact of the redevelopment plan upon the revenues of all taxing districts in which a redevelopment project area is located and, if residential development is included in the plan, the estimated impact on public school enrollment;
(7) findings that:
(a) the redevelopment project area is a blighted, conservation, or sprawl area and that private initiatives are unlikely to alleviate these conditions without substantial public assistance,
(b) property values in the area would remain static or decline without public intervention, and
(c) redevelopment is in the interest of the health, safety, and general welfare of the citizens of the county.
(B) Before approving any redevelopment plan under this chapter, the governing body of the county must hold a public hearing on the redevelopment plan after published notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the county and any taxing district affected by the redevelopment plan is located not less than fifteen days and not more than thirty days prior to the hearing. The notice shall include:
(1) the time and place of the public hearing;
(2) the boundaries of the proposed redevelopment project area;
(3) a notification that all interested persons will be given an opportunity to be heard at the public hearing;
(4) a description of the redevelopment plan and redevelopment project; and
(5) the maximum estimated term of obligations to be issued under the redevelopment plan.
Not less than forty-five days prior to the date set for the public hearing, the county shall give notice to all taxing districts of which taxable property is included in the redevelopment project area, and in addition to the other requirements of the notice set forth in the section, the notice shall request each taxing district to submit comments to the county concerning the subject matter of the hearing prior to the date of the public hearing.
(C) If a taxing district does not file an objection to the redevelopment plan at or prior to the date of the public hearing, the taxing district is considered to have consented to the redevelopment plan and the issuance of obligations under this chapter to finance the redevelopment project, provided that the actual term of obligations issued is equal to or less than the term stated in the notice of public hearing. The county may issue obligations to finance the redevelopment project to the extent that each affected taxing district consents to the redevelopment plan. The tax increment for a taxing district that does not consent to a redevelopment plan as defined in this chapter must not be included in the special tax allocation fund established pursuant to this chapter.
(D) If the redevelopment plan includes residential development, then to the extent that the findings pursuant to subsection (A)(6) demonstrate increased public school enrollment because of this development, then an amount of the increment equal to the average property tax collected per pupil in the district multiplied by the estimated increased enrollment is not credited to the special tax allocation fund but is instead allocated to the affected school district as other school tax revenue.
(E) Prior to the adoption of an ordinance approving a redevelopment plan pursuant to Section 6-33-80, changes may be made in the redevelopment plan which do not alter the exterior boundaries or do not substantially affect the general land use established in the plan or substantially change the nature of the redevelopment project, without further hearing or notice, provided that notice of the changes is given by mail to each affected taxing district and by publication in a newspaper or newspapers of general circulation within the taxing districts not less than ten days prior to the adoption of the changes by ordinance. Notice of the adoption of the ordinance must be published by the county in a newspaper having general circulation in the affected taxing districts. Any interested party may, within twenty days after the date of publication of the notice of adoption of the redevelopment plan, but not afterward, challenge the validity of such adoption by action de novo in the court of common pleas in the county in which the redevelopment plan is located.
(F) After adoption of an ordinance approving a redevelopment plan, any alteration in the exterior boundaries, general land uses established pursuant to the redevelopment plan, maximum term of maturity of obligations to be issued under the plan, or the redevelopment project must be approved by resolution of each affected taxing district in accordance with the procedures provided in this chapter for the initial approval of a redevelopment project and designation of a redevelopment project area.
Residential displacement requirements, benefits and protections.
When there are any persons residing in the area covered by the redevelopment plan:
(1) the redevelopment plan shall include:
(a) an assessment of the displacement impact of the redevelopment project and provisions for the relocation of all persons who would be displaced by the project, provided that no residents may be displaced by a redevelopment project unless housing is made available to them pursuant to the terms of this section;
(b) provisions for the creation of housing opportunities to the extent feasible to enable a substantial number of the displaced persons to relocate within or in close proximity to the area covered by the redevelopment plan.
(2) Prior to authorizing the demolition of any residential units in connection with a tax increment financing plan, the governing body of the county must ensure that the redevelopment plan complies with the requirements of this section and further that standard housing is made available to all persons to be displaced.
(3) Persons displaced by a redevelopment plan are entitled to the benefits and protections available under Section 28-11-10. The costs of the relocation are proper expenditures for the proceeds of any obligations issued under this chapter.
County auditor certification; value assessments; extending taxes.
(A) If a county by ordinance approves a redevelopment plan pursuant to Section 6-33-80, the auditor of the county, immediately after adoption of the ordinance pursuant to Section 6-33-80, upon request of the county, must determine and certify:
(1) the most recently ascertained equalized assessed value of all taxable real property within the redevelopment project area, as of the date of adoption of the ordinance adopted pursuant to Section 6-33-80, which value is the initial equalized assessed value" of the property; and
(2) the total equalized assessed value of all taxable real property within the redevelopment project area and certifying the amount as the total initial equalized assessed value" of the taxable real property within the redevelopment project area.
(B) After the county auditor has certified the total initial equalized assessed value of the taxable real property in the area, then in respect to every taxing district containing a redevelopment project area, the county auditor or any other official required by law to ascertain the amount of the equalized assessed value of all taxable property within the district for the purpose of computing the rate percent of tax to be extended upon taxable property within such district, shall in every year that obligations are outstanding for redevelopment projects in the redevelopment area ascertain the amount of value of taxable property in a project redevelopment area by including in the amount the certified total initial equalized assessed value of all taxable real property in the area in lieu of the equalized assessed value of all taxable real property in the area. The rate percent of tax determined must be extended to the current equalized assessed value of all property in the redevelopment project area in the same manner as the rate percent of tax is extended to all other taxable property in the taxing district. The method of extending taxes established under this section terminates when the county adopts an ordinance dissolving the special tax allocation fund for the redevelopment project.
Revenues and grants; county powers.
Revenues received by the county from any property, building, or facility owned by the county or any agency or authority established by the county in the redevelopment project area may be used to pay redevelopment project costs or reduce outstanding obligations of the county incurred under this chapter for redevelopment project costs. If the obligations are used to finance the extension or expansion of a system as defined in Section 6-21-40 in the redevelopment project area, all or a portion of the revenues of the system, whether or not located entirely within the redevelopment project area, including the revenues of the redevelopment project, may be pledged to secure the obligations issued under this chapter. The county is fully empowered to use any of the powers granted by either or both of the provisions of Chapter 17 of Title 6 (The Revenue Bond Refinancing Act of 1937) or the provisions of Chapter 21 of Title 6 (Revenue Bond Act for Utilities). In exercising the powers conferred by the provisions, the county may make any pledges and covenants authorized by any provision of those chapters. The county may place the revenues in the special tax allocation fund or a separate fund which must be held by the county or financial institution designated by the county. Revenue received by the county from the sale or other disposition of real property acquired by the county with the proceeds of obligations issued under the provisions of this chapter must be deposited by the county in the special tax allocation fund or a separate fund which must be held by the county or financial institution designated by the county. Proceeds of grants may be pledged by the county and deposited in the special tax allocation fund or a separate fund.
Joint county and municipality redevelopment plans.
Counties and municipalities may jointly adopt redevelopment plans and authorize obligations as provided under the provisions of this chapter and Chapter 6 of Title 31.