Public has chance to sound off on Knowledge Park at Monday’s York County Council meeting

Members of the public will have at least one chance to make their thoughts known on a planned agreement between York County and the city of Rock Hill to extend the special Knowledge Park tax district for another 10 years.

York County Council will hold a public hearing on the issue Monday at its 6 p.m. meeting in York. Citizens will be given two minutes each to share their views for or against the proposal that would see the county forgo property tax revenue from the downtown Rock Hill district until 2039.

But because the details of the agreement have yet to be finalized, County Council Chairman Britt Blackwell may hold another hearing on the plan before the council gives its final approval.

“If we have more questions, there’s no law that says we can’t have a second public hearing at the next meeting,” Blackwell said.

The hearing will be held in council chambers at the county Agricultural Building, 6 S. Congress St., York.

After the hearing, council is scheduled to hold the second of three votes on approving the agreement. On April 20, the council voted 6-1 to approve a tentative agreement after a lengthy executive session to discuss the matter. Councilwoman Christi Cox voted against because the city and county have yet to complete an agreement for county council to vote on.

It’s not uncommon for councils to approve an initial reading of an action by “title only,” before the details have been worked out. Blackwell said he, Cox and County Manager Bill Shanahan met this week with Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Reno and City Manager David Vehaun to discuss the still-forming agreement.

Some points of the agreement still need to be worked out, Blackwell said, and he hopes the public input on the issue will help shape the final outline of a deal before county council votes for a final time at their May 18 meeting.

For his part, Echols said negotiations have “gone well” over the past month, since council rejected the city’s initial offer to extend the tax district. York County has to agree to give up its share of additional tax revenue from the improving Knowledge Park district so the city can bond the money for infrastructure improvements.

“I see no reason for it not to go forward” Monday, Echols said.

While the mayor said he would not be able to attend Monday’s hearing, he expects the city’s position will be well-represented.

“Someone will be there to address any points that may need to be clarified,” he said.

Citizens have aired their views on Knowledge Park at previous county council meetings during the public comment period, and council members themselves have been discussing the issue since September. Blackwell said he doesn’t expect any “new questions or concerns” to be raised at the hearing, but says it is a necessary part of the process.

“It does give the community an opportunity to give their feedback to the council,” he said.

Bristow Marchant •  803-329-4062

Want to go?

What: Public hearing on Knowledge Park tax district extension during York County Council meeting

When: 6 p.m., Monday

Where: County Agricultural Building, 6 S. Congress St., York