'Welcome to the neighborhood:' Emerson approves LakePoint Sports incentives package
by Jessica Loeding
Jul 26, 2011 | 5752 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After taking almost an hour of a work session to answer concerns, the Emerson City Council on Monday voted to approve an incentives package, or memorandum of understanding, with LakePoint Land, LLC.

The MOU details water and sewer rates, hotel/motel tax, recreational properties and additional areas between the two parties. The proposal was first brought before the council last week during a work session; Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown also last week authorized the MOU contingent upon a final draft.

Included in the draft is an ad valorem property tax abatement on a taxable bond approved by the Bartow County Development Authority for an amount not to exceed $500 million. An incremental scale is used for property taxes; although the city currently does not impose property tax, if they do a base amount of $10,000 will be levied. An assessed value on capital investments will be abated for 10 years, rising annually by 10 percent.

The agreement approved Monday includes a development threshold regarding the rate of construction to prorate the tax fees. If an investment of $50 million is not made by 2014, the prorate clause kicks in. However, the abatement schedule is not affected and will still sunset on Dec. 31, 2027, at which point 100 percent of assessed value will be taxable, lending motivation for a quick build-out by LakePoint.

During Monday's work session, councilmen's questions focused primarily on the cost of the MOU to the city.

"The way I read this document, if LakePoint goes under, the city of Emerson holds no liability," said City Manager Kevin McBurnett.

"What do we hold?" asked Councilman Gerald Earwood.

"Nothing, if they go under," McBurnett said.

McBurnett said the city has presented LakePoint with preliminary figures for the amount of upfront money the city would need, and the development group has said they would work to assist the city in obtaining those funds.

Water and sewer lines, a topic of conversation in the work session, will be constructed by LakePoint at which time Emerson must "endeavor to provide" adequate capacity at 1.85 million gallons a day for each system. Emerson has obtained an intergovernmental agreement from the city of Cartersville for additional sewer capacity and has been guaranteed water from Bartow County.

McBurnett said Monday the city was pursuing a grant through the Department of Community Affairs that would help the city shoulder the upfront costs of developing LakePoint.

In recent years, Emerson passed a 5 percent hotel/motel tax although the city does not have any such accommodations -- yet. As the complex, situated on almost 1,400 acres between U.S. Highway 41 and Interstate 75, grows to include 16 Major League Baseball-sized fields, 12 soccer and lacrosse fields and a 100,000-square-foot indoor sports complex, there also will be hotel rooms and Emerson expects to receive a portion of that revenue. The MOU will allow LakePoint and the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention and Visitors Bureau the opportunity to share in some of those revenues as well. Hotel-motel taxes collected will be split between Emerson, receiving 60 percent, and the CVB, receiving 40 percent.

Until Jan. 1, 2028, Emerson will divide a portion of the 60 percent with LakePoint for reimbursement of investment related to project infrastructure. Emerson will receive an initial $300,000 annually from the hotel/motel tax, after which time any additional revenue will split evenly between Emerson and LakePoint.

Another concession, if possible, will include two Lake Allatoona recreational properties. One property is leased by Emerson from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, known as the City of Emerson Recreational Property, or EMREC. The other property eyed by LakePoint is Bartow Carver Park, leased from the corps by Bartow County. Both properties, which will be contingent on Corps of Engineer allowances, will be leased or subleased to LakePoint for recreational improvements to include, but not limited to, boat ramps, marinas, fishing villages, restaurants, shops, playgrounds, an RV park and a rowing facility for use by the public and Kennesaw State University.

"Now, Kevin, what do you see is going to bite us in the butt with this thing? Anything?" Councilman Brenda Tidwell asked in the work session. "I know you know it up one side and down the other, around the bend, around the tree and everything else. What do you see being the biggest problem with this?"

"What do I see the being the biggest problem with this? I can't predict the future," McBurnett said. "I cannot tell what expenses are going to be incurred by the city of Emerson .... No one knows, so it's hard to be able to predict anything."

Following the city's approval, Tidwell welcomed representatives of LakePoint who were in attendance. "Welcome to the neighborhood. Just try to be good neighbors."

Also Monday, the council:

* Held a first reading of a text amendment to the sign ordinance dealing with changes to the code regarding LED and LCD signs.

* Approved the final plat for Village at Waterside Phase 3A, with Councilman Ed Brush recusing himself. The approval is contingent upon developers filing the final paperwork dealing with sewer system concerns.

* Approved a resolution creating the Emerson-Bartow County Community Improvement District. The district, which must be finalized through legislative action, will impose a 1-cent sales tax that will be returned to a CID committee for use on improvements within the district.

* Approved an intergovernmental agreement with Bartow County for the 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. McBurnett said the city would receive the same amount as the last SPLOST cycle.

A 2014 Emerson SPLOST project list includes $1,515,000 for water system improvements to include replacement of water main on Puckett Road and other failing water mains; $1,183,500 for sewer system improvements to include repairs and Phase 1 improvements to the Henry Jordan Wastewater Treatment Facility; $345,000 for paving, roadway, intersection, and right of way improvements; $158,900 for storm sewer system improvements; $350,000 for systematic replacement of public works equipment; and $235,414 for information technology. The total SPLOST balance is $3,787,814.

* Granted the right to open the Red Top Circle water main replacement project for bid.

* Approved a resolution to appointment a municipal elections superintendent and committee.

* Approved a resolution accepting the donation of a laptop to the city.

* Approved a resolution extending the deadline of an intergovernmental agreement with Cartersville for additional sewer capacity related to LakePoint to Aug. 31.

* Entered into executive session where no action and no votes were taken.

* Heard from a resident concerned about the traffic congestion at Love's Travel Stop. The council discussed looking into the cost of a traffic study, but a representative of LakePoint said the city could piggyback the study off the one LakePoint must complete since the properties are adjoining.