PE IDA Awaits Loan Repayment

Published 4:57 pm Thursday, July 23, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — The Prince Edward Industrial Development Authority (IDA) approved a $50,000 unsecured loan to the Manor Golf Course in 2011. The goal was to help the owners cover expenses, especially an outstanding debt to the Internal Revenue Service, until the struggling golf course could be sold at auction.

The sale had been anticipated for spring 2012 and, while the golf course finally went to a substitute trustee’s sale in May, when it was sold for $600,000, the IDA loan has not been repaid to this point.

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Prince Edward County Economic Development Director Sharon Carney told The Herald that the IDA gives money to businesses all of the time as economic development incentives.

“We’re not as, how should I say, really upset about it because we do have the avenue to regain our money, but we’re not pushing the issue today,” Carney said of the outstanding loan. “Getting all this other stuff for The Manor cleared up has been really important, so that’s where the efforts have been focused. We got tax money paid back to the county and all like that, so we completed step number one.”

There is an avenue, she added, to get the funds, including 12 percent interest, in the future.

The initial concern was the involvement of the IRS and its potential impact on the property’s sale. The fear was that IRS would seize the property. Then, “we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did the other day,” Carney said.

The economy has changed and there are people interested in development of the property, she added.

County Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. is among those interested in the status of the IDA loan repayment and had asked the question of the county administrator, who Timmons said was going to follow up with the county attorney.

Timmons says he knows the funds paid off the back taxes and the IRS did not seize the property, which he assessed was “a good thing.”

“The question is, what’s the status of recovery? Is it zero … then we need to make an announcement to that effect. If it’s 10 cents on the dollar, then we need to tell that. If it’s a hundred percent on the dollar, then … we just need to inform the public what’s happened to it because it’s public money that went out over there.”

He added, “You can say it’s IDA money, but the IDA gets its money from us.”

While the golf course project was envisioned to include a wealth of accompanying residential development, so far very little has materialized at the site just south of Farmville off U.S. 15.

“If that had been tied up that way, you wouldn’t get that interest. So the whole thing that we’ve done recently was to make that property readily available that somebody would want to get involved with,” Carney said. If there was an IRS lien on it, she speculated, the golf course would have closed a long time ago “and we’d have accomplished nothing.”

County supervisors agreed in June to authorize the chairman to enter into an agreement with Booth and Company and the CDA for the purposes of settling all the claims on the property, commonly known as The Manor, at a cost of $200,000. The IDA, The Herald earlier confirmed with County Attorney James R. Ennis, would loan funds to the Poplar Hill CDA. The CDA has asked for, and the county has approved, a special tax levy limited to the properties within the CDA district of $1 per $100 of assessed value. That would generate the funds to repay the IDA with an added 3 percent interest. Of the $1 per $100 per assessed value collected, 50 percent of the collected amount goes to the IDA to pay back the $200,000 loan, and the balance goes to repay Booth and Company.

Booth and Company installed the sewer lines under the golf course prior to its construction. The county has never accepted any dedication of the lines because there was a dispute over the construction of the lines and the payment of the construction of the lines between the then owner and Booth and Company. The county is now in a position to accept dedication of the lines and would be able to establish a revenue source that is not tax-based, but user-based. If the property develops, the county would be in a position to collect tap fees and monthly fees for water and sewer.

“Our ultimate goal in all of this, everything that’s transpired recently, is to spur economic growth and this is just part of it,” Carney said.

The golf course is an economic development tool, she said. Had they let it be seized by the IRS “nobody would have won and it would’ve just been a lose-lose.”

The goal is to get the golf course running and vital and people interested in buying lots and home, she added. Making investments with businesses and industries “is so that they will generate jobs, make investments … bring people to the community and …if it had been seized under a tax lien, none of that would’ve happened. It took a while to get this straightened out, but we’ve done that and now we’re ready to move on in a positive manner.”

Carney offered her personal opinion is that it was a good investment even if taxpayers don’t get the money back.

“It did what we wanted it to do and that was to not have the [IRS] foreclosure to transpire,” she said.