Statesboro City Council and the Bulloch County commissioners recently named three members each to the TAD Advisory Board, which will review projects for funding from the city’s South Main Street Tax Allocation District.
But the city will have to replace one of its three new appointees, Jan Moore, the soon-to-be-former mayor.
During an interview last Friday about other topics, including the recently approved city strategic plan, Moore said she was considering declining the TAD Advisory Board appointment because of a potential conflict of interest.
“I’m honored to have been asked," she said when asked about this again Tuesday. "I have decided to err on the side of caution and decline the appointment. I am most appreciative of the council’s faith in me by asking me to serve, and I wish them well going forward.”
In the meantime, Moore’s appointment, and the Statesboro Herald’s not reporting it earlier, drew some criticism. On the Statesboro Herald’s Facebook page, some commenters said Moore had “appointed herself.” But Moore was appointed by City Council with a 4-0 vote after a motion from District 1 Councilman Phil Boyum during the Dec. 5 council meeting.
Moore had said she was turning this part of the meeting over to Boyum because he “has been very involved in the Tax Allocation District and the creation thereof” and will continue on the council past her tenure.
Boyum first offered motions naming the other two members.
Then he nominated Moore and said, “She’s been involved in the TAD district, the Blue Mile was one of her main things, and so I think there’s nobody institutionally who’s got more knowledge about what’s going on with the Blue Mile.”
The Blue Mile, central to the Tax Allocation District, is the segment of South Main Street extending to Georgia Southern University. But the Blue Mile Foundation Inc. is a separate entity, not connected to the TAD revenue.
City Council, not the foundation, will control the tax district revenue, acting on recommendations from the TAD Advisory Board.
Moore, who is vice president of economic development at Ogeechee Technical College, concludes her term as mayor Dec. 31. Mayor-elect Jonathan McCollar is scheduled to be sworn in at 9 a.m. Jan. 2.
At least one commenter also questioned the council’s appointment of one of its own members, District 2 Councilman Sam Lee Jones, to serve on the advisory board. Jones was appointed on a 3-0 vote, from which he abstained, also after a motion from Boyum nominating him. Councilman John Riggs was absent.
An agreement between the City Council and the county Board of Commissioners, which brings some future county revenue into the TAD fund, set the requirements for appointing advisory board members. The agreement does not prohibit naming council members or county commissioners to the board, said Statesboro City Attorney Cain Smith.
Nor does it require that city-appointed board members be residents of the city or that county-appointed members be residents of the county.
“There are actually no conditions on the appointees,” Smith said Tuesday. “It really is just as simple as the County Commission appoints three and the mayor and City Council appoint three. There’s nothing else in there.”
The city’s other representative on the TAD board is commercial developer Doug Lambert. He was also nominated by Boyum and approved on a 4-0 council vote.
The Bulloch County Board of Commissioners appointed the county’s three TAD Advisory Board members as a unanimous consent-agenda item Nov. 21. They are Kendria Lee, who is executive associate in government and community relations at Georgia Southern University; Wayne DeLoach, who owns an automotive auction business; and Bill Herring, who lives in Bulloch County after retiring as chief financial officer of a real estate development company in Atlanta.
The agreement calls for the original members of the board to be appointed within 90 days of the agreement’s effective date. It was signed Oct. 25, so the appointments needed to be made by about Jan. 23, Smith said.
However, after the initial appointments, the council could name replacement members as needed, he said.
Incidentally, a sentence in part 3.8.1 of the agreement states: “The governing authority that appointed a member may remove the member from the TAD Advisory Committee at any time, with or without cause.”
But neither the city nor the county can remove the other’s appointees, Smith noted.
The six-member board would grow to nine members if the Board of Education joined the agreement, bringing more revenue into the fund and being able to appoint three members.
The TAD board will have more authority than some local advisory boards. Although City Council retains final authority to approve TAD projects, under the terms of the agreement the council cannot approve funding for a project that is not first recommended by the TAD board. Smith said this is not unusual in other TAD agreements around the state.
The Tax Allocation District legislation devotes growth in property tax revenue within the defined area to public projects meant to spur and assist redevelopment. In effect for Statesboro’s city tax collections since Dec. 31, 2014, it does not increase taxes.
Under the agreement, beginning with 2018 taxes, as long as the county’s millage rate remains higher than the city’s, the county will match the city’s TAD revenue, but the county’s contribution will never exceed the city’s.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.