FLORENCE — The Lauderdale County Republican Party Executive Committee has issued a resolution opposing the proposed agricultural center off U.S. 72.

The resolution strikes against the funding methods used for the Lauderdale County Agricultural Event Center, and states it goes against the Alabama Republican Party's platform of supporting lower tax models.

It declares the committee "does not endorse nor does it support" the creation of the facility.

The $45 million project off U.S. 72 is being paid for through Tennessee Valley Authority in-lieu-of-tax funds, amounting to some $1.2 million annually, as well as a 2-cent-per-gallon gas tax that had been set to expire but was extended for use by the authority.

The resolution also expressed the need for a feasibility study to be completed before moving so deeply into the project.

The Agriculture Authority announced last week that an economic impact analysis released earlier this month indicated the facility would generate $31 million for the economy annually and provide 269 jobs, not including 544 jobs provided by construction.

The resolution brings up several reasons the GOP executive committee takes issue with the project, including what it considers a lack of "adequate input from the public" on the establishment of the authority.

It also states the TVA funds that were redirected to the authority had been going to the cities and towns in the county, Lauderdale Board of Education, Florence Board of Education and Lauderdale County Commission. In addition, the 2-cent-per-gallon gas tax was extended without taxpayer knowledge.

The resolution states the state party's platform declares, "We support lower tax models that adequately fund government without undue waste or programs better facilitated by the private sector" and the executive committee considers the ag center proposal "antithetical to the fiscally conservative principles of the Republican Party of Lauderdale County, Alabama."

Lauderdale County Commissioner Joe Hackworth, a member of the authority, said he does not believe the resolution is in line with public sentiment.

"We feel like a majority of the citizens of Lauderdale County are excited about the ag center and I have had multiple, multiple folks talk to me about it in favor of the ag center," Hackworth said. "I'm excited that we've got the economic impact study in and how favorable it is, and we're going to proceed forward."

Lauderdale Commission Chairman Danny Pettus, who is not a member of the authority, said he had heard about the Executive Committee's resolution.

"I didn't like what they did, but I can't change it," Pettus said.

He questions why they decided to issue a resolution opposing the ag center at this point, as work is underway to clear land for the center.

"After the fact, after something's already happened, I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish," Pettus said.

He said the feasibility study had been completed, despite what the resolution stated, and it was "way better than we had hoped for."

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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(1) comment

Drew Talley

So excited about the AG Center, but most excited about the new Community College that will be built! This is an exciting development for Lauderdale County!

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