County supervisors have agreed to help finance a new development in Madison.

The Board of Supervisors will issue bonds to help finance the huge development project known as the Village at Madison after lengthy discussion on Tuesday.

The county pledged 100 percent of tax revenues from the new district, located in the heart of Madison, with a projected 50 percent payout. The creative financing is known as a TIF or tax increment financing.

District 3 Supervisor Gerald Steen, who mainly represents the city of Ridgeland on the board, was fine with the 50 percent payout, but did not like the 100 percent pledge.

“Pledging 100 percent of our tax revenues is dangerous,” Steen said. “We don’t need to put ourselves in this position.”

Steen, who told the Journal last week he intended to support the bond, offered a secondary motion to obligate the county to issue the bonds, but take out the language about the 100 percent pledge.

District 4 Supervisor David Bishop, who lost his bid for re-election last month to Republican primary challenger Jim Harreld, seconded Steen’s motion.

Representatives from Gouras and Associates, the developers seeking the TIF money, explained that anything less than a 100 percent pledge from the county would render them unable to borrow against the bonds at the level required to get the project off the ground.

After a short discussion, the board voted 3-2 against Steen’s proposal with District 1 Supervisor Sheila Jones, Board President Trey Baxter and District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin blocking the motion.

Griffin pointed out Steen’s hypocrisy over TIF bonds after Steen previously voted in favor of 100 percent pledges for two TIFs in Ridgeland. Those TIFs were to build the Mercedes and Audi/Jaguar dealerships.

“I agree with Gerald that we need a set policy in place going forward,” Griffin said. “But I don’t think we should start it today and punish these developers.”

Board President Trey Baxter said Wednesday it would not have been fair to not contribute to a project like The Village without first putting in place a policy to serve as a guideline for potential developers.

“We just need to be consistent,” Baxter said. “A 100 percent pledge and 50 percent payout is what we’ve been doing, but there’s aspects of it that we could and should change. A 10-year window of acceptance from the county is too long, that should probably be five years, and the most we should payout needs to be 50 percent (of tax revenues) or less.”

The board’s Tuesday vote brings the total government investment in The Village to $2.5 million.

Developers are projecting the new 18-acre, mixed-use development will create 120 permanent new jobs and generate annual retail sales of $16.25 million. 

According to the proposal from developers, The Village would bring new tax revenues of roughly $60,300 for the city, $69,464 for the county and $114,203 for Madison County schools.

There are other incentives for the city as well. 

The proposal also includes replacing old, clay water and sewer lines with new, larger lines, funds for a decorative arch over Main Street denoting the entrance to historic Madison, donation of more than half an acre of land to the city and 46 single-family residential homes that are projected to raise ad valorem taxes by around $114,000.

The Madison Mayor and Board of Aldermen on Tuesday approved the TIF plan for up to $2 million.