John Stalfort, bond counsel with Miles and Stockbridge, noted the bond would not exceed $23 million and will only finance public improvements to roads and other county or state-owned facilities.
In the first three years of the project, Stalfort said, there will be a shortfall in tax increment revenue in paying the bond's debt service. During that time, however, there will be a special tax imposed on the property owners only so the debt service can be paid.
Beginning in 2018, it is projected that the county will begin to see regular tax revenue coming in and the special tax would no longer be imposed.
Council questions, comments
County Councilman Dion Guthrie, who noted he voted in favor of the one and only TIF the county has approved for the Beechtree Estates development in Aberdeen, asked how that arrangement has worked out for the county so far.
Treasurer Kathryn Hewitt said the building in Beechtree Estates has gone "slightly slower" than originally anticipated. The James Run project has different projections, though, because James Run is a mixed-office commercial project and Beechtree was residential.
Guthrie asked how this slowdown in development has affected the county taxpayer.
"It has not affected the rest of Harford County taxpayers," Hewitt said.
Councilman Richard Slutzky said he was concerned with the vague use of "short term" residence for the lodging houses and said that could mean a person stays there for a month or for a year.
Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti asked Richardson if the road improvement to the area surrounding James run were necessary.
"Absolutely," he replied, noting if key intersections, such as Route 543 at the I-95 interchange, as well as at Route 136, were improved, it would move traffic better throughout the county.
It was also pointed out that the road improvements are not only not on the State Highway Administration's capital improvement plan, but also not on the county's for the foreseeable future.
The most common use of TIFs in Maryland jurisdictions are to build public improvements where a developer is obligated to produce them, said Keenan Rice, president of finance consulting firm MuniCap, which compiled the revenue estimates in the county fiscal impact note.
Councilman Jim McMahan said he was wary of the phasing of the development and the timeline of the project. He asked if the lodging would come before the offices, or if businesses would fill the office space at all. He also questioned if the project fits with the county's definition of mixed-office zoning.
Richardson said there county has already seen a demand for "extended stay housing" and said he believes the office market will definitely rebound in the near future.
Charles Murray, who lives in the Waters Edge community near the proposed development, called James Run a "sound investment," especially since the taxpayers wouldn't be paying for it.
James Run, he continued, "will include much needed road improvements" and will be "a true public service."
Fallston resident Joan Ryder said she is concerned that people involved with the project aren't being identified or introducing themselves to the public. Ryder, real estate broker, was also a critic of the earlier Beechtree TIF.
Based off of the Beechtree TIF, Ryder said she feels the project won't be good for the county.
"Is this really the path Harford County will follow?" she asked.
Clarence Boyle, who lives less than 3 miles away from the proposed site, said he supports the project especially from the standpoint of having roads fixed.
"Who's going to fix our roads?" Boyle asked, noting that the state and county aren't even considering improving the area's infrastructure any time soon.
Boyle added that this will bring jobs to the county and "people making money spend money."
Morita Bruce, who spoke on behalf of the controlled growth advocacy organization Friends of Harford, said from the comments and questions raised by the county council, she had heard a lot of assumptions and "assumption is the mother of all screw-ups."
A market survey hasn't been done yet, Bruce said, and the job estimates are all, at this time, are all assumptions.
"This project is risky," Bruce said, calling it "an undefined, self-contradictory private project" that wants millions of dollars from the county and may not even benefit its residents.
This story is updated from an earlier version to include additional financial information and clarification of previous information.