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Rock Hill school board votes to extend deal with city

If Rock Hill moves ahead with a plan to spark development downtown, city schools will continue redirecting tax dollars to city development projects through 2039.

The school board voted 5-2 Monday to take city officials up on an offer to extend a financing agreement in exchange for school resource officers. Board members Jane Sharp and Walter Brown voted against the agreement.

City leaders want to pay for downtown renewal projects using tax increment financing, which lets the city borrow money based on the projected future value of property in a TIF district and spend the funds on projects intended to attract development. The loan is repaid from tax revenue in the TIF district.

The downtown TIF district is set to expire in 2014. City leaders want to extend it through 2039 and add 10 acres.

The school system, which forgoes about $230,000 annually to the downtown development area under a previous agreement, would continue. The money would go toward the Downtown East development, a partnership between the city of Rock Hill and Comporium Communications to build office and retail spaces and a 1.6-acre park with a fountain.

The City Council won't vote on the plan for months but wanted the school board's blessing before moving forward. The council voted Monday to hold a public hearing and eventual vote.

The city agreed to the school system's requests before proposing the bargain. If the City Council approves the plan later this year, here's what would happen:

The school system would continue forgoing about $230,000 a year in tax revenue, plus any future increase through 2039 up to $11.5 million total.

The city would pay for school resource officers at Northwestern and South Pointe high schools, four middle schools and the Flexible Learning Center plus any new campuses in the city, saving the school system at least $364,000 a year. (Some officers come from the York County Sheriff's Office.)

The city would hold the school district harmless from payments for any new owner-occupied homes within the expanded downtown TIF area.