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Incentive packages become routine page 3
Kalahari is just the latest of many incentive deals

Date published: 1/13/2008


County Economic Development Director Mark Weiss said the authority includes the entire retail development, not just Bass Pro.

The authority issued about $35 million in bonds that will pay for various improvements around the project.

To pay back that debt over a 20-year period, businesses within the authority's boun-daries will pay a 10-cent surcharge on their real estate taxes, and half of all of their local tax payments will go toward paying back the bonds.

Of course, for that money, the county is getting a $7 million road improvement that will link two interstate interchanges, a 36-acre public park and the parking and stormwater management infrastructure needed for the development.

In Fredericksburg, City Councilman Matt Kelly argues that the city got a lot of those benefits before Kalahari was even part of the picture.

The Silver Cos. used a community development authority to build the road and utilities infrastructure within Celebrate Virginia.

They also donated land for a third city fire station in the development, and have pledged $1 million toward widening Fall Hill Avenue in front of the development if that project can get off the ground by 2010.

Emily Battle: 540/374-5413
Email: ebattle@freelancestar.com

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WHAT: Public hearing on Kalahari incentives WHEN: Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. WHERE: City Council chambers in City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.

In addition to the Kalahari deal, the city has also used forms of incentives and public-private partnerships on the following projects: SLAVERY MUSEUM: In 2002, the city agreed to give the museum $1 million. That money was to be spent on "governmental services," per the agreement between the city and the museum. Museum staff reported that the money was spent on promotions, educational projects, programs, offices and various engineering and environmental plans. It was paid back to the city, with interest, by the landowners in Celebrate Virginia, through a special tax district. That district did not include the Slavery Museum, which is tax-exempt. INFRASTRUCTURE: The roads and utilities infrastructure in Celebrate Virginia was built by the Silver Cos., using a Community Development Authority. That allowed Silver to access tax-free bonds to build $25 million worth of public infrastructure in the development. The debt is being paid back by the landowners in the complex through a special tax district, not by the city. WEGMANS: Last summer the council approved a deal to waive $1.7 million in business license taxes over 10 years to lure a Wegmans grocer to Celebrate Virginia. EXPO CENTER: Council members are considering granting the Expo Center $225,000 a year over three years, if the center meets certain benchmarks. The grant is intended to help the private center compete with publicly financed convention centers in the state. The council will discuss this at its Jan. 22 meeting.

NOT JUST TAXES In addition to the 20-year agreement to return 47.5 percent of the resort's local taxes, the Kalahari incentives package also includes: FEE WAIVERS: The city will waive $3.35 million in upfront development fees for the project. WATER AND SEWER RATES: Kalahari will pay reduced water and sewer rates that basically amount to the city's cost of providing those services to the resort.