If the County and East Ridge-are going to consider declaring the Jordan Crossing development as a TIF region let's look at the much needed items the TIF money can be used for besides Camp Jordan;
1. Classroom expansions at Spring Creek Elementary
2. Sidewalks throughout East Ridge
3. Hardscape improvements along Ringgold Road along with the grants already being received
4. Additional incentives for development in conjunction with the Border Region incentives
5. Debt service on bonds already issued by East Ridge for Exit 1 improvements.
None of the above can be funded with hotel/motel tax, but the Camp Jordan improvements can.
Do I like the idea of expanding Camp Jordan? Yes and, of course, I will be an active supporter of the idea.
Do we have alternate funding mechanisms in place to make it happen? Yes...hotel/motel tax
Do we need to take a close look at placing artificial surfaced playing fields in a flood-prone area? Yes
I am all about improving East Ridge and Camp Jordan, but let us take a very close look at all alternatives before we just jump on the idea of funding Camp Jordan improvements with a TIF.
We must remember 30 percent of the County's 2018 projected hotel/motel tax will fund almost $25 million of tourist-related improvements throughout our county. The Camp Jordan improvements qualify without question.
Let's be smart with how we use all of our tax revenue sources for making improvements in our community before we talk about property tax increases on our citizens.
District 8 County Commissioner Tim Boyd
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Mr. Exum is off the mark when it comes to the East Ridge Sports complex. East Ridge has a lot of needs and issues that need to be addressed and spending taxpayer money to force people past his dear friend John Healy’s development isn’t the best use of these funds. Yes, they won’t affect the budget but the budget will not see the increase that was promised to the taxpayers when the city agreed to spend millions in incentives and development and reconfiguration of Camp Jordan Parkway and the surrounding exit ramps.
Yeah Mr. Exum’s bathroom floods but not while it's been rented out by a major tournament who is then forced to relocate or refund the money its taken in and decides next year's tournament won’t have this problem because it won’t be played at Camp Jordan. Just ask the Christmas Nights of Lights folks who withdrew from their contract and decided to not return due to Camp Jordan flooding.
Who Mr. Exum should really speak to is the taxpayers of East Ridge to ask them if they want funds diverted from city coffers and put into a larger Camp Jordan that's meant for outside folks more than local citizens. Or if they would like those funds added to the city budget and used to securely badly needed police officers and firefighters. I would tell Mr. Exum to ask those of us who pay taxes in East Ridge that question, but it appears Mr. Boyd already did.
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Tim Boyd has reason to be concerned. When one goes looking at comparable sports complexes in the region, you see that Lake Point Sports, just 70 miles south of Camp Jordan on I-75 is kicking butt. Sure, it is bringing in mega bucks to the small town of Emerson, GA, but it is also privately held. Does East Ridge and Camp Jordan really think that they can go toe to toe with a venue like that?
I realize that youth sport travel is a major industry and everyone wants a piece of the pie, but I don't think that Camp Jordan is necessarily the best place to throw tax payer money in order to grab some market share for Hamilton County. Unfortunately, the flooding of Camp Jordan is a reality. Seeing a bathroom flood is one thing; unable to get to your bathroom is another story. Tim Boyd's concern about putting in lots of infrastructure and the clean up costs WHEN it floods is very real. Sure, games will be canceled during the rain, but we are talking about the area that stays wet for days after the rain. One big flood messing up a tournament will have all the travel ball planners looking an hour south at a venue that won't flood!
It was just 3 short years ago that East Ridge agreed to sell the dirt comprising the high ground at Camp Jordan to the developers so that the Crossing wouldn't flood. Now we want to build a sports complex on the freshly excavated low ground.
East Ridge/Camp Jordan: Do what you are good at. Provide the nicest park for local sports and local events. Municipalities are in the business of providing services to the citizens, not development and tourism.
If it really is a great idea, then a private company will make investment, just like Lake Point has done, on a site that doesn't flood or cause the tax payer money.