County OKs TIF Bonds

 Charles Pointe financing plan has supporters, foes

The Exponent Telegram

By Darlene J. Taylor, Staff Writer

Friday, June 16, 2006

CLARKSBURG- The Harrison County Commission approved an order of resolution Thursday to issue tax increment financing bonds for the Charles Pointe development in Bridgeport.

The TIF is being used to fund infrastructure at the $1 billion planned community of 2,000 acres along Interstate 79 and W.Va. 279.

The bond issue drew a crowd to the usually sparsely attended County Commission meeting at the courthouse.

Representatives of the two local labor unions, with other interested county residents, filled the hearing room for the discussion.

"The action taken by the Harrison County Commission provides that jobs will be created and progress continues on the development of Charles Pointe," Charles Pointe developer Jamie Corton said in a prepared release.

"Our goal at Charles Pointe has been to be an engine for economic development. I am certain that residents of our county and those who look to North Central West Virginia for opportunity and employment appreciate this action as I do," Corton said.

Huntington National Bank will purchase the initial bond of $6 million at an interest rate of about 7 percent, according to Vince Collins, bond counsel for the commission.

The second bond of about $30 million is proposed to be public issue, Collins said.

This is part of up to $90 million in bonds that can be issued for the project, he said.

Vince Travelli, counsel for the Building Trades and Carpenters Union, expressed concern about the project.

"When you use TIF funding in whole or in part, competitive bidding, prevailing wage and local preference is to be used," he said.

But the state Development Office informed county commissioners Wednesday that prevailing wage and competitive bidding are only required for the infrastructure project, according to County Administrator Robert Andre.

Travelli said he will make a decision on what, if any, action to take after speaking to his clients now that the County Commission has approved the bond issuance.

Collins said that TIF financing will pay for only 5-10 percent of the total financing of the project.

"Taxes generated by the development will be used to pay debts service on the bonds. No taxpayers money will be used," Collins said.