Ball Ground Recycling Facility
The Ball Ground Recycling Facility program has turned out very positively for the county.
In 2006, the BOC unanimously agreed to finance a new waste wood recycling facility on a designated heavy industrial site near Ball Ground as an inducement to get a similar facility moved from a less suitable site, and in hopes of consolidating and also moving a second such facility. Both were causing huge nuisances in their former locations. The plan succeeded, and the two former locations have been converted to vastly better uses. One is a fabulous soccer park, and the other is part of the highly successful “Cherokee 75” Business Park developed by the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED).
There was risk involved, as is often the case with important objectives. Some of the downside risk was realized when the original operator of the new facility bankrupted and it had to be turned over to a new operator at a much lower lease rate. That left the county to fund about $1 million per year of the annual bond payment on the facility.
But now, a partly related favorable outcome is also being realized. Besides 1500 new jobs at the “Cherokee 75” Business Park, private capital investment there has already reached $172 million. When all that investment comes into the tax digest, it will produce about $2 million per year in new property tax revenues, more than covering the annual cost of the recycling facility. Those tax revenues will keep growing and continue indefinitely, while the bond payments are a fixed amount for a limited time.
To be clear, COED was not party to the financing agreement for the new Ball Ground facility, and that agreement didn’t directly apply to the former grinding site that became part of “Cherokee 75”. It’s possible that site could have been vacated and become available to COED without the financing agreement, and/or that “Cherokee 75” could have been developed without that site. But the BOC believed the site was important to “Cherokee 75”, and that it would likely continue to be used for stump grinding indefinitely without the financing agreement for a new and better facility. Commissioner Johnston continues to believe that the financing agreement for the Ball Ground Recycling Facility helped facilitate the development of “Cherokee 75”.
The Ball Ground Recycling Facility program has turned out to be a big winner for quality of life around the former grinding facilities. And to the extent it contributed to COED’s successful development of “Cherokee 75”, it’s even turning out well financially.