FLORENCE, S.C. – Buc-ee’s got the go-ahead from the Florence County Council on Thursday.

The nine-member council voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance to authorize the execution and delivery of a fee-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement with Buc-EE’s and the Drs. Bruce & Lee Foundation and an ordinance declaring a property upon which the convenience store and gas station will be located part of a joint industrial park with Darlington County.

The company was previously designated Project Clean.

The fee-in-lieu ordinance notes that the Buc-ee’s location represents an investment of approximately $35 million and the creation of 170 new full-time jobs in Florence County.

It adds that a large amount of public infrastructure improvements, which are preferred by the county so as to retain value even if the project is not successful, are needed in the location just off Interstate 95’s exit 170. Exit 170 is an interchange with S.C. 327.

The fee-in-lieu agreement calls for an assessment ratio of 6% and millage rate of 349.6 mills.

The improvements necessary are expected to be provided in grants by the county according to the agreement. The grants include a transportation grant of $500,000 to improve the roadway and public right-of-way at the intersection and a rural development grant of up to $218,200 to offset public infrastructure costs.

The agreement notes that the county and the city of Florence have applied for an EDA grant to offset infrastructure improvements. The county has agreed to provide $553,343 in matching funds if this grant is secured. The foundation will be responsible for providing any funds due pursuant to the grant.

The agreement also contains a clawback minimum provision that if Buc-EE’s collects $1 million in hospitality tax funds within five years after it commences operations the required investment drops from $35 million to $30 million.

It is also expected that the Buc-EE’s location will spur development of the interchange as it is on a marked path to Myrtle Beach.

The council also voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance expanding a joint industrial park with Marion County to include MobileFleet’s operations in Marion County. MobileFleet was previously designated Project Squid.

In other action Thursday, the council:

  • Deferred the second reading of an ordinance to provide for the issuance and sale of $7.5 million in bonds for improvements to the Wellman Country Club in Johnsonville.
  • Approved on second reading an ordinance rezoning property owned by the city of Johnsonville at 117 E. Broadway St.
  • Approved on second reading an ordinance amending the county’s budget to lower millage rates including the general fund millage from 79.2 to 78.2, the debt service millage from 12.7 to 12.5, the unified fire district general fund millage from 19.5 to 19.0, the unified fire district debt service millage from 4.4 to 4.3, and the Florence Darlington Technical College millage from 9.8 to 9.7.
  • Approved the reappointment of C.B. Black Jr. to the board of assessment appeals, the appointment of Scott Collins to serve on the museum board, and the re-appointment of David Barr to serve on the policy commission on recreation.
  • Authorized County Administrator K.G, “Rusty” Smith to solicit proposals from engineering firms to perform a review of the water systems in the county.
  • Awarded a contract to Palmetto Corporation of Florence in the amount of $789,315.45 to be funded from Capital Project Sales Tax II funds for resurfacing of six roads in Council District 6, and eight roads each in Council Districts 8 and 9;
  • Approved the use of a contract to purchase a Caterpillar motorgrader for $274,291.19 and a Caterpillar small wheel loader in the amount of $208,697.40 to be funded from the county’s budget.
  • Authorized the hiring of F&ME in an amount not to exceed $55,545 for construction engineering and inspection services for resurfacing projects in Council Districts 7, 8 and 9.
  • Declared a handgun from the sheriff’s office as surplus property to provide to a retiring employee.
  • Declared three vehicles, one dump truck, and two trailers as surplus to be disposed of via GovDeals.
  • Approved the expenditure of up to $165,000 from the general fund fund balance for the replacement of the fire alarm system at the sheriff’s office complex.
  • Authorized the budget-neutral reclassification of two positions in the sheriff’s office
  • Approved the purchase of an aerator for the Lake City Community Park at Lake Brook in an amount not to exceed $11,000 from contingency funds.
  • Declined a request by the Timmonsville Rescue Squad for assistance in funding its workers compensation insurance.
  • Approved the expenditure of up to $1,400 from Council District 1 Infrastructure Funding Allocation to pay for repairs to handrails on the fishing dock at the Lake City Community Park.
  • Approved the expenditure of $19,000, $4,750 in funding from Council Districts 3, 4, 5, and 9 for improvements to the expanded field area at Savannah Grove Park.
  • Approved the expenditure of up to $12,500 from Council District 2 Infrastructure Funding Allocation to purchase two video security systems for the new Johnsonville athletic complex and for the Laverne Ard Park in Pamplico.
  • Approved the expenditure of up to $3,750 from Council District 2 Road Service Maintenance Fee funding for road stone to be placed on Bush Road.
  • Approved the expenditure of up to $8,000 from Council District 6 Road Service Maintenance Fee funding for road improvements to Byrnes Boulevard in the Country Club of South Carolina.
  • Approved the extension of Smith’s contract from Nov. 16 to Nov. 16, 2021.

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Government and Poltics Reporter

I cover the city of Florence, the county of Florence, the state legislative delegation of Florence County and surrounding areas, and the federal delegation representing the Pee Dee for the Morning News.

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