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Oconee County Will Spend $16 Million on New Costco

Oconee Chamber of Commerce President Courtney Bernardi touted Costco’s aura, its personnel policies and its strong sales record on Tuesday when she made the case to Oconee County leaders for the deal to bring the company to the county.

Oconee County Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell focused more on the county than Costco in comments he has made about the deal.

Daniell said the county did not seek out Costco and the reason he brought the proposal to the Board of Commissioners on Tuesday was because it was financially sound, met county objectives, and was consistent with the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

The county is offering a complex set of incentives that County Attorney Daniel Haygood described as possibly the “most complicated thing” he has dealt with in his legal career.

Haygood said he can simplify by saying the county is spending $1 million in Local Option Sales Tax revenue annually for 15 years to obtain $1 million in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue each year from Costco’s sales as well as $1 million in Education Local Option Sales Tax revenue.

The centerpiece of the deal is a $10.1 million purchase by the county’s Industrial Development Authority of 23 acres from Epps Bridge Centre developer Frank Bishop.

Bishop will then lease the property from the Authority at no cost and sublease it to Costco for $4.9 million to cover costs of additional site improvements Costco is requiring.

To finance this incentive package the county will issue $16 million in bonds, only the second time Oconee County has ever sold bonds to bring a company to the county. It issued $10.4 million in bonds in 2012 to lure Caterpillar.

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