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Officials plan to tweak tax abatement guidelines

By Melissa Crowe
July 8, 2013 at 2:08 a.m.
Updated July 9, 2013 at 2:09 a.m.


In other business

• Ratified order prohibiting outdoor burning in unincorporated areas of Victoria County

• Approved month-to-month lease agreement with Hope of South Texas at the old elections office, 111 N. Glass St.

• Received $13,000 donation from Pump Co., a pipeline company, for repairs to county roads and drainage in Precinct 2

As Victoria's officials look at new ways to entice economic growth, the tax abatement program could see changes.

The county commissioners court approved adopting the existing tax abatement guidelines and criteria Monday, but Victoria Economic Development President Dale Fowler said some changes may be on their way.

"We're looking at a couple of small tweaks," Fowler said. "It's something that we're evaluating and anticipate in the coming weeks making some recommendations. At this point, there's no changes recommended."

Fowler said tax abatements have been offered "to as many existing companies that choose to expand as new companies" such as South Texas Electric Co-Op and Sparkman Industries.

The past year, two new companies to Victoria, Hlavinka LLC and Keen Transport, received breaks on their tax bills in the name of economic development.

Fowler estimated the incentives are shared about 50-50 between existing and new companies.

Tax abatements are granted for up to eight years. The current guidelines require an investment of at least $500,000 and a minimum of 10 new jobs to be added for a tax abatement to be granted. Fowler said he wants to make it flexible with payroll.

"There may be a way to use the tax abatement on lesser job creation depending on the pay scale," Fowler said. "Sometimes, the payroll is more important than the number of jobs."

County Judge Don Pozzi said he supports the proposed changes.

"I'm glad to hear you're continuing to study some alternatives," Pozzi said. "I think that this can be tweaked somewhat."

Fowler said the change is necessary if the city and county is going to keep up.

"Our competition is doing the same thing," he said.

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