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Agency wants to tap excess funds to buy land

The Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission plans to ask Lexington County Council to give them $1,030,000 that has built up through the years in a fund used to service the agency's debt.

The commission voted unanimously Sept. 23 to seek the funds from the county. The money already had been collected from taxpayers and would require no tax increase, said Elizabeth Taylor, executive director of the recreation agency.

When construction bonds are approved for an agency such as the recreation commission, the county projects factors such as the growth of the tax base. Because of the fast growth in Lexington County in the past 20 years, more has been collected than required to pay off bonds, Taylor said.

The excess collected is kept in a debt service fund, and it has reached $1 million. Now, the commission would like permission to use that money to pay for land acquisition in the Chapin area and capital improvements or repairs, Taylor said.

If approved by county council, most of the bond funds likely would go to purchasing land for athletic fields near Chapin. The agency already has land for expansion in the Irmo area at the former BC Components site.

The commission also approved a long-range plan that emphasized it had no plans to go to voters or county council to ask for a tax increase to pay for large projects. Instead, the commission hopes to find ways to set aside money from the current budget to pay for small projects.

The plan lists the agency's future facility priorities as the Saluda River Greenway trail system, a multi-use outdoor complex in Chapin, expansion of both indoor and outdoor facilities in Irmo, an amphitheater at Saluda Shoals Park, a district-wide trail plan and an aquatics center.

The agency hopes to partner with other public and private organizations on the trail projects, the amphitheater and the aquatics center. The plan states that the aquatics center can't be built without financial partners, Taylor said.