GREENVILLE CO., (WSPA) – The groundwork has been laid but a proposal for a tax break on developments in Greenville County is now raising questions for members of Greenville County Council.
Last year, the county approved a policy to encourage workforce housing. The policy provides incentives for the developments by essentially lowering the developer’s taxes if they include a certain number of “affordable” units in their build.
Since the policy was approved in 2022, four new members have joined the board.
Now, they’re asking if the policy is actually helping or hurting members of the community.
“There are a lot of people who live in this area who can’t even afford to live in the project that is supposed to provide affordable housing,” said county councilmember Benton Blount. “My concern is that we are pushing a lot of people out that are then in turn going to be homeless or are going to need extra assistance.”
Recently, two projects in the works, Woven in West Greenville and Cherokee Landing in Berea, have caused the most concern.
“It is not like we are giving anything away,” said Butch Kirven, county councilmember and chairman of the finance committee. “When those projects get built out they will be worth $24 million and $75 million, respectively. So the county is going to get a lot of taxes on those even with the incentive that we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.”
Kirven said offering a tax break to developers still results in income production for the county.
Other council members said they fear the tax break could eventually hurt taxpayers and that they will have to make up for the money lost somehow.
“There is no specific formula that says well we are going to give this money as an incentive so we got to make up for it by raising taxes somewhere else,” Kirven said. “That just does not happen.”
While those who disagree with the policy say it can still have positive effects, some council members said they still have concerns.
“I have spoken to several of the fire chiefs and fire captains and their concerns is with half of the money coming back in revenue, they are still having to answer the calls and the call volumes are still going to go up quite a bit with a 128 unit apartment building,” Blount said.
Greenville County Council said they are encouraging the public’s feedback as they work to decide what best serves the people in the county.