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Council votes to take first step toward Flying J store

    The Statesboro City Council voted Tuesday to take the first step towards installing infrastructure that would support a 22-acre Flying J truck stop development at the corner of 301 South and I-16. This includes entering into a agreement between the council, the Bulloch County Board of Commisioners, the Bulloch County Board of Education and the Flying J Corporation.
    In a memo to the council, City Manager George Wood said the proposed water and sewer infrastructure would open up development possibilities along a six mile stretch of Highway 301 between the interstate and the Gateway Industrial Park.
    "One entity (Flying J) would generate enough additional tax revenue to pay for the project," Wood said. "It would also give us the backbone needed to get to all four sides of the intersection [of 301 and I-16]."
    So far, there have been no discussions about the topic at the county or the board of education. At this point, the city has only approved entering into dialogue with the other entities.
    In order to secure financing for the project, the city would obtain a 20-year GEFA loan. The Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority is a state agency that has served local governments by providing low-interest loans for water and sewer infrastructure improvements. Since 1985, they have approved over 1,300 projects through $2 billion worth of loans to cities, counties and infrastructure authorities.
    According to company representatives, the Flying J development would generate nearly $1.5 million in additional tax revenues for the county and would create 60 jobs with a annual payroll around $1.15 million.    
    Woods estimates the project would generate an additional $489,570 in annual SPLOST funds, which would be used to pay the debt service on the GEFA loan. The city seeks to secure an agreement with the Flying J Corporation to make up any shortfall, should the SPLOST money generated by them drop below the annual debt payment.
    SPLOST stands for Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
    In addition, the city would ask the board of education to kick in about $100,000 that they currently receive from the Hospital Authority revenues. In return, the board can expect to receive approximately $900,000 in additional funds from the increase in tax revenues resulting from the development.
    In other action, the council unanimously approved the 2007 property tax rate, with a rollback to 6.358 mills, down from 2006 rate of 6.921 mills. They also voted for changes to the alcohol ordinance regarding penalties for violators. In addition, they voted to change the rules for development in the Central Business District to prohibit detached single-family dwellings and first floor multifamily or condominium type developments.
    A bid for the Police Station Landscaping Project was awarded to CinDot Construction, Inc. Also, the mayor was authorized to enter into a water/sewer agreement with Statesboro Blues Development for the Hartford Subdivision. Lastly, they approved a request from Downtown Development Authority Director Heath Seymour to waive application fees for DDA sponsored events through Dec. 31, 2008.

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