Although developer Steve Winters, managing director of SRW International LLC, did not return a call seeking comment, he said in a May press conference with Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown that he expected Perdue to approve the measure, which would have provided incentives to developers via sales tax rebates of 25 percent of those dollars the resort generated for 10 years.
The governor had vetoed two previous versions authored by former Rep. Jeff Lewis of Bartow County.
Rep. Paul Battles, R-Cartersville, also was in favor of the bill, on which hinged SRW's decision to construct The Falls at Vineyard Mountain near Emerson -- a resort that would have included The Vineyard Mountain Snow Dome or Mount Pegasus, the longest and highest indoor ski dome in the world at 3,000 feet with a 450-foot vertical drop.
Winters said last month the investment in Phase I of the project would have been $1 billion, and Battles estimated the development would bring $13 to $14 million per year in revenue to Bartow, not including SRW's estimate of one-time sales tax revenue to Bartow of $19.5 million -- and to the state $26 million -- assuming developers purchase $650 million in construction materials.
Perdue cited not wishing to set a precedent with his veto of the bill proponents said had been tightened since twice failing, requiring a minimum capital investment of $100 million.
"In previous years, I have supported state participation in tourism projects when considered on a case-by-case basis. I have signed legislation in the past to assist tourism developments and this year I supported bond funding for the College Football Hall of Fame," Perdue said in the release. "However, I cannot support legislation that funds up to 25 percent of the cost of a tourism project by allowing the developers to receive refunds on state sales taxes that are collected. The tourism industry is one of Georgia's most important economic drivers, but funding developments through sales tax refunds has never been done in Georgia, which sets precedent that I cannot support."
For Brown, who backed the development, the number of jobs the development was expected to bring would have been "a huge boost" to a county with double-digit unemployment.
"I was disappointed. I was hoping the governor would sign it because that's a great deal for Bartow County, basically 2,000 jobs that would have been involved and, of course, some other stuff to go with it," Brown said. "I didn't have a problem with [sales tax rebates], as long as they're not getting sales tax from somebody else or something else. They would have had to generate the money to be able to get the money. They just got to keep 25 percent and 75 percent of the sales tax involved in it would have been a great deal to Bartow County but the overriding factor is the 2,000 jobs we need real bad right now.
"But I don't think it's over because Jan. 1 there will be a new governor. I will support [the development in the future]. There's a lot of things that's got to be checked out, and I would certainly do that. ... Right now it's gone for a little while," Brown said.
Perdue said in the release he favors "the process used in previous years to consider projects with legislation on a case-by-case basis [because it] removes any unintended consequences of a bill such as [HB 1251]."
His spokesman, Bert Brantley, said the blanket bill "would [have] allow[ed] projects to qualify without any legislative review on a case-by-case basis, and that has been [Perdue's] objection [in vetoing two previous bills]. It's been the message each time that these kind of things should be taken on a case-by-case basis where the legislature when they budget can see where the impact would be and they can account for that in the budget."