Bibb BOE amends Kumho deal, seeks more money

With some of its members unhappy with its share of the payments in lieu of taxes proposal for Kumho Tire, the Bibb County school board voted 4-3 Wednesday to amend the deal.

The amendment, proposed by board member Jason Downey, requested 45 percent of the $27 million.

The original plan would have the school board, the Macon-Bibb County government and the local Industrial Authority each getting a third of the money. Each would have received $9 million.

But Downey and others balked at giving up more than $4 million from what they would have received if the payments were evenly split between the board and the government as would be the case with tax money.

“The county has the job of funding the Industrial Authority, not us,” Downey said.

The 45 percent would bring the school’s portion of the payments to a little more than $12 million. Downey was joined by board members Lester Miller, Susan Sipe and Thelma Dillard in support of the amendment, with Tom Hudson, Lynn Farmer and Wanda West voting against it. Board member Ella Carter was absent from the meeting.

Per the amended plan, the local government and the Industrial Authority can split the remaining 55 percent “however they want,” according to Downey.

The proposed Kumho plant would cost the company $600 million to build and would bring an estimated 450 jobs to the area. West said she supported the original plan because it sent the message that county leadership was unified in a plan to boost the economy.

“I just want to be a full supporter of the idea of the three entities coming together,” she said.

Hudson was perhaps the most vocal supporter of the original split. He also expressed his displeasure with what he called “back-door deals” to get the votes aligned for the deal. Hudson said he was fine with the Industrial Authority getting a third of the money.

“They’re the ones, in part, that brokered the deal to get Kumho Tire to come here,” Hudson said.

The plan for payments in lieu of taxes was originally presented at the board’s Nov. 20 meeting, but board members wanted time to address questions. They reconvened Wednesday to take up the issue.

Now, according to Hudson and Macon-Bibb County spokesman Chris Floore, the city-county commission and the Industrial Authority -- both of which already approved the original proposal -- will need to decide how to handle the amended deal.

Floore said that likely would mean a special commission meeting to keep the process moving, but the exact course of action would have to be decided after a conversation with the county’s attorneys.

“Knowing that it’s changed, we’re going to have to review what it means for us,” Floore said.

Hudson said he’s concerned what may happen if the three government entities don’t reach an agreement.

“If Kumho Tire company does not come, where are we going to get $9 million?” he asked.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331,