The Statesboro City Council will consider a request by Hacker's Golf Park tonight to enter into an agreement in which the city will pay the fees associated with tapping into the city's water lines for The Clubhouse project at Hackers.
If the Memorandum of Understanding is passed by Council during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. in city hall, the city will pay for the various fees associated with Hacker's tying on to city services in exchange for the annexation of the entertainment complex and approximately 291 acres of the surrounding area. The annexation was unanimously approved by Council in August.
Councilman Travis Chance said the Hacker's extension project is too important to the growth of the city not to support.
"We saw an opportunity for the city to annex property, to increase revenue that would enable us to provide our citizens with better services and that would have very little impact on their taxes, but would allow us to grow out," Chance said.
With the anticipated growth of the Georgia Southern student population there will be additional demand for multi-family units and commercial development. The city is anticipating growth in that area due to proximity to Georgia Southern and retails businesses lining the bypass. In fact, long-term plans show the city annexing most, if not all, of the property located between Fair Road and South 301 and between Langston Chapel Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Councilman Will Britt said he believes the Hacker's MOU is a "quality investment on the city's part." He said if the city did not annex Hacker's and the surrounding property, it would have impeded future attempts by the city to annex property in the area and would have created a "blockade for future annexation."
"If you agree to annex in, we'll wave these fees," Britt said. "By them annexing in, we now have the city limits expanded, which means the property on the other side of (Hacker's) becomes developable and they'll have to tie into our water system."
Hacker's co-owner Darin VanTassell said he's already had approval from the county for the Hacker's expansion when the city began discussing the topic of annexation. VanTassell said he was originally resistant to the idea, since he had already secured financing for the project, and he didn't want tying into city services to add to the project's bottom line.
"The city approached us and asked if we would consider being annexed," VanTassell said. "(I told council), if we're going to consider annexation, then I don't want to incur any more costs for it."
VanTassell said the city approached him at the end of last year and they spent a few weeks hammering out an agreement.
"They've agreed to cover the cost of bringing the water (to the Hacker's expansion), and the hook-ups and the sewage, in exchange for us annexing and giving the city a new revenue source and opening the area to future development," VanTassell said. "My understanding with the city is that this was a good economic development move for them - they get a new revenue source."
Councilman John Riggs said he is leaning in favor of the MOU, but wants to wait and hear all the information at the council meeting.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to vote for it, but I haven't decided exactly whether I am or not, but I'm pretty sure I am," Riggs said. "I just want to read over it all again and I just want to know the ins and outs - know it backwards and forwards - before I vote."
Councilman Tommy Blitch said he had yet to make a decision on the Hacker's MOU.
"I don't know. I'll certainly look at it," Blitch said. "I've got to make my mind up when I vote for it."
According to the MOU, the city will waive four different one-time "tap fees" and the "aid to construction fees." Documents show the tap fees - the cost of tapping into the city's water lines - totaling $21,821.50, while the ATC fees will total $22,736.
In addition, the city will pay for the materials and labor to install various backflow meters and will reimburse Hacker's for the cost of a temporary septic system that they will use until they are able to tie into the city's wastewater line, which has yet to be installed. Officials estimate the cost for installing the backflow meters at $12,901.71 while the cost for the temporary septic system is estimated at $35,000 - 40,000.
The total cost to the city will be approximately $92, 459.21. Community Development Director Christian Lentz said the monies to pay for the city's commitment will not come out of the general fund, but instead will come out of bond money raised for capital improvement projects.
In exchange for the considerations by the city, VanTassell agreed to annex Hacker's and 64 acres into the city, along with approximately 227 acres around Hacker's - on both sides of Old Register Road - in which he has a minority ownership position.
According to city documents, the expanded Hacker's complex with The Clubhouse will employ 60 people with an initial annual budgeted payroll of $735,000. Also, the anticipated annual local sales tax revenues are estimated between $57,000 and $75,000. In addition, the monthly water and sewer bill for Hacker's is estimated to be $2,418.30 per month, or $29,019.60 in revenue for the water and wastewater enterprise fund.
Lastly, the city will benefit from the Hacker's expansion being added to the property tax rolls. Though property tax estimates were currently unavailable, the value of the property is anticipated to be a good deal above the $7.4 million construction costs for the development
A motion to consider an MOU with First Baptist Church for the extension of a water main to the expanded sanctuary was tabled at the last meeting and is no scheduled to be discussed at today's meeting.
According to Mayor Joe Brannen, the First Baptist item should be on the agenda at the first meeting in October.
Phil Boyum may be reached at (912) 489-9454.