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Rock Hill schools to hold mortgage burning Friday night

Symbolic, but significant. Friday night, Rock Hill school officials will gather with other local government leaders and representatives from Duke Energy for a mortgage burning for the district's new elementary and high schools and renovated middle school.

When Duke Energy made the decision to locate in the Hanging Rock area two years ago, local leaders worked out a tax abatement program whereby the company would forego paying taxes for 13 years in exchange for making annual contributions to local entities.

The lion's share of the abatement money goes to the school district, which is using this year's $3.9 million contribution to pay off its bond levy. Rock Hills schools, therefore, will be paid off 23 years ahead of schedule, according to Rock Hill Superintendent Lloyd Evans.

"It's the only time in history I know of it happening, anywhere," Evans said. "This will save the taxpayers some $6 million."

After this year, Rock Hill's portion of the abatement money will be $100,000 annually for two years and $573,000 annually for the remaining 10 years.

Evans said the mortgage burning will take place during a special ceremony just before the start of Rock Hill's homecoming game against Fairland.

"It will be a short ceremony," Evans said with a grin. "And then we'll go on and win the game."