Members of the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and a unanimous city council are in support of a ballot proposition to return a full 1/2 cent sales tax allocation as was provided upon the Corporations inception. Voters will decide this Saturday, May 9, a proposition that would repeal the temporary 1/4 cent sales tax that provides revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets that was approved by voters in 2011. The repeal would then allow the portion to be returned to the Manvel Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to promote positive development opportunities for the city.
In 2011 when the measure was approved by voters, the city was challenged with stressed budgets and citizen demands that repairs be made to the many road problems in the city. In response council approved a ballot proposition that would siphon 1/2 of the sales tax dedicated to the MEDC and pledged it instead to the road fund. MEDC board members were generally unsupportive at that time making the argument that the funds could be better invested in longer term benefits to the city. The decision voters will decide comes at a critical time for the city as three significant home communities will be delivering many rooftops within the city’s limits and extra-territorial jurisdiction in the coming years. With those rooftops comes the need for increased infrastructure improvements and retail/commercial developments to service those many homes.
Today city roads are in a far better state and the funds budgeted to their maintenance are greater in amount and more secure in availability than ever before. With new development contributing to city tax rolls, recent budgets are significantly less strained than previous years. City Manager Kyle Jung says the amount in question in the current budget would approximate $275,000. As city sales tax revenues increase in coming years that amount will go up correspondingly.
MEDC last year committed $1.6 million toward the water/sewer infrastructure improvements that are nearly complete along SH 6. That infrastructure is vital to the city’s ability to land a large grocery store or other big box retail establishment. For years prospective commercial developments were turned away due the city’s inability to fund the construction of the needed utility services. MEDC also funded the installation of water/sewer infrastructure that allowed the ProBuild facility to locate in the city. For many years, when city budgets were strained, sales tax revenue generated by that business were essential to the city’s budgetary needs.
Projects funded through MEDC produce real benefits to tax payers that go beyond mere physical improvements, such as a grocery store, that citizens would enjoy for many years. The tax burden on residents is diminished as the city does not have to fund the project through bonds or debt obligations that usually result in an increase in the local property tax rate. And because MEDC is funded by sales taxes, a significant portion of their projects would be funded by non-citizens. A portion of every sales tax dollar earned in the city will go toward economic development endeavors and as sales tax revenues increase still more improvements to the local economy can be realized. Another benefit to a healthy and adequately funded MEDC is that it can typically act on projects more quickly and with less bureaucracy and administrative requirements than is typical for the city administration.
MEDC members see infrastructure development continuing to be its primary focus in the near term. The city’s current wastewater treatment plant is nearing its capacity so while the new water/sewer lines will soon be complete along SH 6, the reality is that insufficient capacity exists for a prospective business to take advantage of it. MEDC members encourage a proactive approach to impending development and this critical need well displays the type of improvement a well-funded MEDC would likely participate in.
Thanks to a recently approved program adopted by Brazoria County, voters will now be able to cast their ballot at any county voting location on Election Day.