Tax questions surround Florence's medical school

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - Taxpayers are questioning how tax dollars are being used when it comes to the construction of the future medical school in Florence.

If they are going to do it, why not do it as efficiently as possible and use a building that is already there? The City of Florence just moved into a used building instead of building one, because of the costs. Seems like they would take a lesson from themselves," said Bill Collins.

The project's total cost is $15 million. The City of Florence will contribute $3 million to the project.

"I'm not sure what would be best. It's always good to build using something you already have to save a little tax payer money," said Bert Belk

Many concerns surround the building that will house the new medical facility that will soon be built in Downtown Florence.

"It will be a great help for our city here, not only for bringing new people in to our community, but also developing nurses and doctors and the jobs it will create," said Ron Pitts

Project leaders from the city, Francis Marion University and the University of South Carolina share that opinion. Some taxpayers say their tax dollars should be used to update a vacant building within city limits, instead of building a new one. Project leaders say the medical school requires a new building because of the technology needed in today's medical classrooms.

"The wiring you have to have for the different equipment, you have to literally have to redo everything," said Ron Pitts.

Ron Pitts has a background in construction, and he said the cost of gutting, and rehabilitating a building could possibly match the cost of building a new facility.

Right now three different properties in the City of Florence are being considered as options. Information on those properties has not been released. The new medical school should be done by 2016.

City leaders say they have only committed to contributing $3 million to this project, meaning the city will not help with operating costs.

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