Despite an inability to borrow even 10 percent of the current appraised value of the Port of Port Royal, the town of Port Royal continues to explore financing options.
Town manager Van Willis provided an update on the potential purchase during a Town Council work session Wednesday night.
"I'm trying to wrap my head around this one still," Willis said.
The 317-acre port -- which has 52 buildable acres -- is owned by the S.C. State Ports Authority. It has been vacant since 2004 when the authority deemed it too expensive to continue operating. Three attempts by developers to purchase the land since 2006 have been unsuccessful.
In March, Ports Authority board chairman Bill Stern approached the town with the idea of selling the property to the town. Stern said the authority would be willing to sell the port -- appraised at $22.5 million -- at a reduced price. The authority would not, however, be willing to finance the purchase, he said previously.
The town has a borrowing limit of $2.1 million, set by state law and based on the $28 million worth of taxable property within town limits.
Town bond attorney Frannie Heizer and Willis are contacting banks about financing options. Concerns about alternative financing options include the potential effect on bond and credit ratings, as well as limitations on borrowing for other town needs, Willis said.
"Hopefully they're going to get back with a way to make this happen," he said.
In the meantime, a citizens' group is continuing to seek signatures for a petition asking the Ports Authority to come to town for a public meeting, member Judy Alling said. The group is also continuing to ask residents to send letters to Ports Authority members and other officials urging the sale.
The group is also making T-shirts emblazoned with the word "SIN," Alling said, which stands for "Sell it now."
Mayor Sam Murray thanked the group for its work.
"If you recall the wording of the petition, it demands a meeting be held by the Ports Authority to give us information and to ask for public opinion," Alling said. "I have heard nothing."
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.
- Ports Authority considers selling Port of Port Royal to town, March 22, 2014: http://bit.ly/NJZMur
- Another bill, introduced in Senate, seeks to speed Port of Port Royal sale: http://bit.ly/1lXuRHg
- Legislation introduced to force sale of Port of Port Royal, March 5, 2014: http://bit.ly/1mlc77y
- Santa Elena Foundation board member taking Ports Authority to task, March 1, 2014: http://bit.ly/1jctYxf