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Tax incentives may be only way to entice new business

Article Date: 
29 November, 2013 (All day)

City officials are so interested in bringing new businesses to town in an effort to boost economic development that they would consider offering tax incentives to anyone interested.
The Young Automotive Group is seeking an incentive to move forward with plans on 6.79 acres of property west of the current Ford dealership.  The project has three phases, including a new Chrysler dealership, commercial car wash and wholesale parts distribution center.  
Development plans could bring $6.2 million in taxable value to the county, increasing the value of property currently on the greenbelt.  
Morgan City is proposing the area be put into a Community Development Area (CDA), which would open up negotiations among Young and the taxing entities in the area including the city, county and school district to extent post-performance tax incentives after two phases of the development are built.
City leaders propose a seven-year deal, where all taxing entities continue to receive the same property taxes they have always received from the property, as well as 20 percent of the new taxes created by the added value of the new improvements.  Young would keep 80 percent of the new property taxes for those seven years as an incentive for developing a stronger tax base in the community.
County Councilman Ned Mecham questioned the value of extending such an incentive to one business, but not others.
“Every business is going to want the same deal,” Mecham said.  “Is this the road we are going to go down?  Are we picking and choosing?”
In fact, some businesses have contacted Morgan County Councilman Robert Kilmer asking why they didn’t get a similar deal, he said.
Morgan City Mayor Jim Egbert said he personally was fine with new businesses asking for tax incentives.  
“We benefit either way, property or retail tax,” Egbert said.  “Unless we start giving incentives, they will go to more popular places.” 
Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Kelley said tax incentives may be one of the only ways to entice new business to the area.
“Businesses would not locate here without the incentive,” Kelley said.  
Morgan City Councilwoman Shelly Betz said  Young’s deal is unique because they would be responsible for installing road, sidewalk and gutter to a frontage road that would open up an entire business area to other future businesses.
Ken Durrant, vice president of the Morgan County School Board, was at the Nov. 19 Morgan County Council meeting to voice the school board’s support of a tax incentive to the Young group.
“We are really excited about it,” Durrant said.  “We need commercialism.  This is a real boon down the road for the county.”
Kelley said that coming from the largest taxing entity in the county, Durrant’s opinion meant a lot.
Morgan County Councilman Lyle Nelson said the county should follow the city’s lead and school district’s support by offering its own tax incentives to businesses interested in locating within the county.