MEDC requests sales tax modification

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Manvel city council heard from members of the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) at its January meeting regarding the return of sales tax proceeds that were rededicated to street maintenance in 2010. Making the argument that the city’s financial position is far better than it was in 2011, MEDC members asked council to support an effort to convince voters to approve the return of a full ? cent sales tax allocation in the May 2015 election.

The argument was also made that MEDC funds can promote significant projects to help the city develop and cited the current funding of the water and wastewater improvements being installed along highway 6 as an example. For years the city saw potential development shy away due to the lack of water and sewer infrastructure available. With the installation currently in progress expected to be complete in early 2015, along with the completion of residential developments expected in the coming years, members feel it likely to finally see the grocery store and perhaps other retail establishments that citizens have long anticipated.

Economic Development Corporations for a city are generally established to improve the economic base and enhance its business environment. Programs are designed to attract, retain, and assist new and existing businesses and jobs through a variety of activities including grants, loans, and the provision of information. City council member Melody Hanson, who also serves on the MEDC Board, effectively describes the Corporation as “kind of a silent partner with the city” and explains that “for many years there wasn’t really a project or sufficient funds available, so members were conservative in just holding the money and letting it accrue which has allowed the opportunity to do a major project.” In addition to the funding of the installation of water and sewer infrastructure to service future development along Hwy 6 to Hwy 288, past projects moved by MEDC include the installation of a water/sewer line to service the ProBuild Lumber facility on the south side of Hwy 6 from FM 1128, water and sewer lines servicing the eastern portion of Hwy 6 from FM 1128 to roughly the Burger barn location, and a water line along 1128 to service a dance studio.

Council member Hanson explained that “almost everyone that you speak with is very much in support of the potential of having a grocery store, so we have been trying to stress that it is through economic development, such as the infrastructure improvements, that we can get that here. I think if we can tie those two together maybe people will understand a little bit more about what we do.” Hanson has expressed hope that prior funding levels will be restored while conceding the benefit of the increased money put toward roads and bridges in 2010. “In the long run, spending money like we are on projects such as the water/sewer installation down Hwy 6 will be far better for the city,” Hanson believes.

City Manager Kyle Jung explained that “under state law the street maintenance sales tax must be re-authorized by the voters every five years. If it is not re-authorized or the city council fails to call for its election, that 1/8 of a cent of sales tax simply is not collected anymore. It does not revert back to anything, it just simply is not collected.” According to Jung, what city council needs to do is call an election to provide the 1/8 cent sales tax to the city and then dedicate it to MEDC if that is their desire.

Council member Adrian Gaspar thinks it is now time to return the allocation to MEDC “because they are going to use it properly towards the development of the city.” Mayor Delores Martin agreed saying “we are advocating commercial/retail coming into our city and MEDC is expanding the infrastructure which gives us the opportunity to bring businesses in here. It is only right (that we support this effort) and we need to work together to accomplish it.” The matter will be an agenda item on a future council meeting prior to the time requirement to call the election.

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