MOULTRIE -- Two years after the sales tax collection began for the development of an industrial park, the Moultrie-Colquitt County Economic Development Authority (EDA) has yet to settle on a site.
The EDA has looked at more than 40 sites so far, but there's still no clear favorite, Executive Director Darrell Moore said Friday. The board does have a few viable options, but all present challenges.
"It's not an easy decision," he said. "I think we're at a point where we're going to have to start compromising on some of the things we're looking for."
But not on price. There's a finite amount of money to work with, EDA officials said. The EDA can't pay top dollar for farmland that requires costly routing of utilities and sewer service and other infrastructure development -- although some property owners want them to.
"If we find a site that everyone likes but can't afford it, we can't do anything with it," Moore said.
Because running utilities could cost anywhere from $800,000 to $2.8 million, the EDA is looking for large sites. But, Moore said, two or more smaller sites aren't out the window yet.Atlanta engineering firms have offered to do preliminary work for the EDA to clarify the total cost per developable acre for the top sites, he said.
"A lot of people think we're not doing anything if you believe the Rant and Rave. ... This time has been spent trying to hear everybody," said Diane Moore, chair of the EDA industrial park committee.
A community consensus remains a huge consideration for the board, she said. Without it, state and federal officials will likely shy away from providing any grant money for the project, she said.
The industrial park decision was delayed last year when several EDA members were replaced at the end of their terms. With only one change to the board this year, the learning curve has been rounded. Diane Moore believes members want to come to a decision but the stars have yet to align.
"I still have some hope that there's still something out there that we haven't thought of yet. Maybe I'm dreaming," she said.
The primary goal is to create jobs and expand the tax base, but the EDA wants the best return on taxpayers' investment, Darrell Moore said.
Sales tax collections earmarked for the new industrial park are at a little more than $1.59 million, said the most recent county records, out of an anticipated $5 million.