Port Royal continues to explore options to purchase port property

emoody@beaufortgazette.comApril 9, 2014 

The town of Port Royal is seeking $22.5 million to help purchase the Port of Port Royal, shown, from the S.C. Ports Authority.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

  • In other business, council:

  • Approved an agreement with the recently formed Lowcountry Jaycees to work together, including cross promotion of events, meetings and activities. The Jaycee's first fundraiser is Saturday in Live Oak Park.

  • Discussed this week's delayed garbage pick up. Town manager Van Willis said pick up was delayed because the driver had surgery, and if residents leave cans out, their trash will get picked up.

  • Approved resolutions about fair housing and non-discrimination based on disability. The resolutions are voted on annually.

  • Proclaimed April as Parkinson's Awareness Month.

  • Discussed the upcoming Soft Shell Crab Festival scheduled April 19. The Old Village Association of Port Royal is seeking volunteers.

  • Discussed tax collections, which Willis said he expects will be down for Port Royal and other municipalities

  • The potential purchase of the Port of Port Royal by the town of Port Royal is still in the exploratory stages.
  • A sale terms sheet has been sent to the S.C. State Ports Authority for consideration, town manager Van Willis said during a town council meeting Wednesday night.

    Willis said he and bond attorney Frannie Heizer continue to work with banks and explore the town's options.

    Port Royal has a borrowing limit of $2.1 million, according to state law, a figure well below the current $22.5-million appraised price for the 317-acre property that includes 52 buildable acres. Ports Authority chairman Bill Stern has said the authority would be willing to sell for a reduced price, however.

    Willis said there may be a way for the town to get a loan for the purchase and use the land as collateral.

    A copy of the proposed term sheet provided by the town does not include a purchase price.

    The Ports Authority's next regular meeting will be Wednesday in Charleston. Willis said he does not expect the Port of Port Royal to be on the agenda, but it may come up in the board briefing.

    Three bills were introduced by Beaufort County state legislators in March regarding the port.

    Rep. Kenneth Hodges, D-Green Pond, sought to suspend the sale and take the land off the market while alternative uses were considered. House Bill 4919 is in the House Committee on Ways and Means

    Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, and Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, introduced similar bills to sell the port by June 30, 2015 or auction it off. Senate Bill 1089 is in the Senate Committee on Transportation while House Bill 4829 is in the House Committee on Ways and Means.

    Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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