Lease already signed by property owner, HB Restaurants
By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
STEPHENVILLE (February 24, 2016) – It appears Stephenville will be getting a new place to eat after all, as the city’s financial committee approved a sales tax rebate for an HB restaurant in the former Fiddle Creek location.
Originally asking for a 10-year sliding scale, it appears HB will have to settle for seven years and still didn’t get full approval from the committee with Councilman Boyd Waggoner voting against the measure.
Getting a rebate has been a bit of a journey for HB as Stephenville is still learning the ropes of economic development and what kinds of funding can be made available for incentives to attract business.
The proposal hasn’t been without opposition as several long-time restaurant owners spoke before the city council saying they thought funds from the Stephenville Economic Develop Authority were for helping develop “lots of jobs” such as industrial work.
“I did not vote to keep them from coming here. They are welcome to come here. My vote was against the basic unfairness of giving a competitive advantage to a larger chain restaurant to come to this community to compete with such smaller local restaurants such as Pastafina, Cotton Patch, Greer’s, and Ruby’s,” Waggoner said. “These restaurants took their chances. They paid their taxes. They have been here for years, and now they are disadvantaged. To give a larger chain restaurant a leg up against these local and loyal restaurant citizens seemed to me like giving Goliath an extra weapon for a fight with David. It is not going to be a fair fight.”
HB Restaurants isn’t seeking SEDA funds, but is instead seeking help under Chapter 380 of Texas Local Government Code. That code allows cities to make loans or grants of public funds for the purpose of promoting economic development.
There had been a good deal of confusion about such funding and Hofbrau has gone from the council to SEDA (only to be told to go back to the council) and now to the city’s finance committee.
Now, the matter is expected to be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting of the city council for consideration and possible approval.
“I believed that Hofbrau decided to come to this city with or without this advantage. Their expectation is to take in more than $2.2 million per year for the first 10 years, which is $22 million. I believe they thought this city was such a good move for them that they would have come without the tax advantage, and I still believe that,” Waggoner said.
Turns out Waggoner is probably correct.
The property owner, Gale Warren, filed a “memorandum of lease and purchase option for recording” on January 29, 2016, at the Erath County Courthouse. The memorandum is for a 20-year leasing agreement between Warren and Headin West, LLC, which appeared to start the first of this year.