Report could inform tax issue

By The Mercury

City commissioners on Tuesday will receive and probably react to a report that could become a key component of the discussion about the 2012 sales tax initiative.

Receipt of the 2011 economic development report is the only item on the agenda for the city’s work session, which begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall. The report reviews the economic performance of 15 companies that have received assistance from existing or previous municipal economic development funds.

In a synopsis provided for commissioners, members of the city’s staff assert that the companies collectively have more than 280 new jobs in the past reporting year, and a total of 1,442 jobs since receiving incentives. That is 138 percent of the anticipated jobs total.

The report found that 13 of the 15 entities, including five of the six companies receiving tax abatements, experienced job growth since the last report.

The two most recent companies to receive economic development assistance, CivicPlus and Prathista International, are not included in the report because their initial results are not yet required to be submitted.

Officials said, however, that the two new companies combined have already created 19 new jobs since the adoption of their economic development agreements.

Extension of the sales tax, which was passed by voters in 2002, is on the November general election ballot because the 2002 tax expires at year’s end. City commissioners have agreed to divide the proceeds from the tax, continuing to use part of it for economic development incentives but using other portions for either infrastructure upkeep or debt relief.

The report to be reviewed by commissioners Tuesday encompasses firms that received assistance both under the sales tax and also under a 1994 economic development tax that preceded the 2002 tax. It concludes that since 1995, approximately $7.41 in private sector and other investment was made for every $1 committed by the city. It also found that companies receiving incentives generated nearly $1 million in total property taxes in 2011.

The report identified one company currently being tracked that was in default. That company is Collegiate Marketing Services.

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