Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are Property Taxes Important When Trying to Attract Industry?

A basic EDC concept: All taxing entities can exempt a new industry for up to 10 years from property taxes except for the School District. So as an example, lets say a business prospect is considering locating to Commerce or possibly some neighboring communities and that business will add $40 million of property tax value (roughly the value of an aluminum plant when it opened) to the tax roll.

Commerce ISD Tax Rate: $1.58; Taxes= $632,000 per year
Greenville ISD Tax Rate: $1.17; Taxes= $468,000 per year
Sulphur Springs ISD Tax Rate: $1.36; Taxes=$544,000 per year
Mount Pleasant ISD Tax Rate: $1.23; Taxes=$492,000 per year

If those rates remained the same, over 10 years, that business would pay $880,000 to $1.6 million more in property taxes to be located in Commerce. What do you think, do industries look at tax rates when deciding where to locate? Would you?

Yes, other factors are involved but from a property tax stand point, it makes it hard to compete!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Promoting Growth in Commerce Texas

“How do you get Commerce to grow and prosper?” seems to be a question that has been asked for as long as I’ve been living in the area.

In 1994, city leaders thought they had the answer as 113 citizens voted for the creation of the Commerce Economic Development Corporation.  The EDC is a non-profit corporation that uses local sale tax revenue to “promote economic development through recruitment of new industry and expansion & retention of existing industry.”

This is known as a 4A EDC. What I propose to you today is that Commerce Economic Development Corporation needs to become a 4B EDC.

What’s the difference?

From the Texas Comptroller’s website:

Type A EDCs — Developing Industries
Type B EDCs — Developing Industries & Cultivating Communities

So while 4A EDCs (Commerce) can only seek to develop industries, Type B can both develop industries and cultivate the community.  Yes, you read it right.  Type B can do what a 4A can, and much more.

You may also ask what is meant by Cultivate the Community.  Cultivate the Community is another way of saying Quality of Life Improvements.

The Comptroller’s website explains it further:

The Type B sales tax may be used for any project eligible under Type A rules and several other project types, including quality of life improvements.

Type B corporations may pay for land, buildings, equipment, facilities, targeted infrastructure and improvements for:

• professional and amateur sports and athletic facilities, tourism and entertainment facilities, convention facilities and public parks;
• related store, restaurant, concession, parking and transportation facilities;
• related street, water and sewer facilities; and
• affordable housing.
To promote and develop new and expanded business enterprises that create or retain primary jobs, a Type B EDC may fund:
• public safety facilities;
• recycling facilities;
• streets, roads, drainage and related improvements;
• demolition of existing structures;
• general municipally owned improvements; and
• maintenance and operating costs associated with projects.

Most of those are needed in Commerce but our EDC cannot invest moneys towards those type of projects because we are 4A.

Wouldn’t you like entertainment facilities? Improved public parks? Restaurants? Affordable Housing? Improvements to the City Pool and Public Library?  If you said yes, then why do we remain 4A?

Changing to a 4B requires NO NEW TAXES or TAX INCREASE. The potential of being a 4B gives the board members of the EDC all the advantages of a 4A but allows for improvements to “Quality of Life” initiatives. Sounds good to me, how about you?

In closing I want to quote an article from the Commerce Journal in the fall of 1993, when a well respected Commerce businessman went before the city commission and convinced them to put it to the voters to create the Commerce Economic Development Corporation.  “If we are going to compete and get the city growing, which it’s not doing at this time, we’re going to have to work on industrial development.”  

Unfortunately Commerce is not competing, Commerce is not growing and yet many in our community still feel that industrial development is the key to our future success. If it hasn’t worked for the past 20 years, what are the chances it will work for the next 20?

Let’s Think Different. Act Different. Be Different.

Let’s empower our EDC Board to use local sales tax revenue for both industrial development and quality of life improvements.