The Stephenville City Council has presented a united front in its pursuit of generating economic development, and the upcoming May election is a chance for voters to take control of how their money will be spent.
First and foremost, a Type B Sales Tax Election IS NOT about raising your taxes. This election is about bringing more options to the table when it comes to using the tax money already being collected.
The ultimate goal is using your tax dollars to bring more jobs to Stephenville, and not just any jobs, but jobs that pay better. It’s no secret Stephenville has been lagging behind the state and area averages in pay scale and poverty level.
Basically, a Type B economic development corporation has the potential to recruit or help create jobs, improve the quality of life and repair/improve infrastructure such as sewers, etc.
A recent public hearing showed there was a good deal of interest as attorney and economic development specialist Jeffery Moore laid out the pros and cons of Type B versus Type A.
Moore is in hot demand across the state as he serves as the city attorney for Roanoke where property taxes haven’t been raised in almost two decades, because sales taxes dollars are filling the coffers. Moore made the recommendation the council pursue Type B.
Stephenville City Council knows we aren’t going to develop into a restaurant mecca for foodies – but better paying jobs is a different story. Better paying jobs allow for savings, the ability to purchase a home and to start more business, which in turn creates tax dollars.
To get all this started, the council would like to divert some of its tax revenues toward economic development and it’s a large figure – right at $450,000. The money is already in the projected budget and to divert it via a Type B Sales Tax Corporation, the council needs the approval of voters.
If approved, a board would oversee the corporation and the council would get ultimate say over money and projects.
So, are better paying jobs a guarantee? Nope.
So, in a couple months will Stephenville have a couple hundred new jobs? Nope.
Is there some risk involved? Yes.
You can’t divert $450,000 forever without making it up somehow. The hope here is better jobs creating more spending ability, which in turn creates more sales tax dollars.
That can mean a tightening of the city purse strings and digging into reserves to help and keep things rolling until the hoped for development starts to happen.
We have seen little sparkles of development around town as both local investors and outside big business has expressed interest in Stephenville.
Back to that risk factor and the bottom line which is, “Will this raise my taxes?”
The answers = Not at first, and maybe not at all, if things take off. Maybe, if we see we have to make up for shortfalls due to an economic downturn, not if things keep perking up etc. etc. etc. Yep, there is no clear forecast, but there are plenty of questions.
Basically, it’s back to wanting guarantees that good things will happen, and there are none. The one solid guarantee being if we don’t do something, NADA is where we will end up.
So do some of your own research, talk to your friends and neighbors, and ask a business owner a few questions. Can this work? Will it pay for itself? Once you are informed, get out and voice your opinion in the upcoming elections.
The other beauty of this venture being if things don’t work out as planned, you can always vote to do something else.
The link below is detailed layout of Type A and Type B sales tax corporations written by Mr. Moore. You might also check out his impressive resume which was the reason the City of Stephenville hired his expertise.
Russell Huffman is chief roust-about and step-and-fetch-it at The Flash Today. His previous work includes both print and broadcast journalism with awards from the Texas Press Association for news writing and photography. A former Army officer, Russell earned his commission through the Tarleton State University ROTC program. Views expressed in this column are his and do not reflect those of The Flash as a whole. To contact Russell, do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.