Bibb BOE delays vote on accepting Kumho contract

Macon-Bibb County Mayor Robert Reichert was hoping Thursday that the Bibb County school board would sign off on a deal between the city and Kumho Tire, but the board chose to delay revisiting the issue until next month.

During a presentation during Thursday’s school board committee meetings, Reichert said Kumho is working with local officials to build a $600 million plant in Bibb County that would bring 450 jobs to the area.

But because the proposed deal would require Kumho to make payments in lieu of taxes to the school system, the local government and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, each entity must sign off on the deal. That payment arrangement is used as an incentive to lure businesses so they don’t have to pay property taxes.

Reichert said Kumho officials want a deal to be completed by the end of 2014. He noted that the school system would earn $9 million in payments in lieu of taxes over the next 20 years if the deal is completed.

Kumho previously tried to set up a factory in Bibb County in 2007, but the recession that hit in 2008 scrapped those plans. The new deal gives the school board $1 million more than the 2007 deal would have.

Board members seemed to be in favor of the deal, but after meeting in executive session for about 40 minutes, they decided to postpone a vote in order to get some of their questions answered. Some board members noted that they were presented with the proposed contract at Thursday’s meeting, with no time to examine it in detail. School board President Sue Sipe said the tentative date to meet once more about the issue is Dec. 2.

“This is a no-brainer,” board member Tom Hudson said. “People in the community are hurting. They want jobs. A lot of people are leaving because there aren’t jobs. I think this is a golden opportunity. It would have such an economic impact.”

After the decision to delay the vote, Reichert said he remained optimistic that the board will approve the deal. The Macon-Bibb County Commission approved it unanimously Tuesday night.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m looking forward to Dec. 2,” Reichert said. “I’m confident (the school board will approve). It’s disappointing but understandable.”

In other business Thursday, the board:

Voted 8-0 to award the HVAC contract at the Welcome Center to Hamlin Heating & Air for $228,571. The project has a maximum budget of $300,000.

Voted 5-3 to award a construction services contract for a new elementary school to International City Builders. Hudson and board members Jason Downey and Lester Miller voted against the measure.

The new school will be located at the current site of Morgan Elementary and will be budgeted at about $14 million, district officials said.

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.