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Executive Director Steve Gilbert will update the PEDC board of directors today on changes the local Tax Abatement Committee made in mid-September to the incentives that will be offered — or not — to economic development prospects.
Today’s get-together is a “special called meeting” of the Paris Economic Development Corporation at 3 p.m. at the Community Room at the Depot, 1125 Bonham St.
The board will “discuss and take action on” the proposed revisions to the current tax abatement criteria and forward it to the governing bodies of the city, county and junior college.
The new abatement policy would go into effect once all three governing bodies have given their approval.
The biggest change proposed is the offer of 80 percent abatement of taxes in the first year and a lower percentage abatement in succeeding years to any company making a new or additional capital investment of $1 million or more in the community.
An additional abatement each year — 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent or 20 percent – would be allowed, depending on the number of new jobs created.
If a “great project” – a plant wanting to invest more than $100 million in Paris — should become available, “we will be able to negotiate above these agreed levels,” Gilbert said at the Sept. 12 meeting. That’s still in the plan.
In other business, the PEDC will:
Changes in the abatement policy are coming because of a growing sentiment among the Paris City Council, Lamar County Commissioners Court and Paris Junior College that they are “giving the farm away” by giving new industry up to 10 years of no taxes.
The Tax Abatement Committee is comprised of one person from each of the City of Paris (City Manager John Godwin), Lamar County (County Judge Chuck Superville), Paris Junior College (President Pam Anglin), the executive director of the Paris Economic Development Corporation (Steve Gilbert) and the chief appraiser of the Lamar County Appraisal District (Jerry Patton).
All but Patton attended a Sept. 20 meeting that came up with the latest changes. Also present were city Finance Director Gene Anderson, Mayor AJ Hashmi, City Councilman John Wright and City Councilwoman Sue Lancaster.
There was brief discussion about offering tax abatements to any prospect, without regard to a minimum.
“The problem with that is kids out mowing the yard could ask for money, or someone putting in a snow cone stand. You’ve got to have minimums,” said someone who was at the meeting.
“New jobs are important because those new people to the community are spending sales taxes,” the individual added.
By Charles Richards, eParisExtra