Betty Yarter spoke to the court with concerns about current tax abatements in place without any current guidelines approved by the court.
“We still don’t have any guidelines that assure that the abatements we have out there are in compliance,” Yarter said. “The company sending in a letter essentially saying, ‘We’re in compliance,’ is not fulfilling your responsibilities to the taxpayers.”
Yarter said that taxes should be recaptured if the parties involved are found to be out of compliance with any tax abatement agreements in place.
“We need to attract – if we are looking at new industry – we need to identify the industries in the guidelines that we want... if that is going to be distribution facilities or manufacturing facilities, those need to be specifically identified in the guidelines.”
Walter Chance, who has requested a tax abatement agreement related to a new restaurant and sports bar he plans to build asked the court again to consider his request.
“The abatements are most beneficial to small businesses, like mine,” Chance said. “That is why I have applied for one.”
Chance said he has spoken with County Attorney Herb Hancock and that hopefully draft guidelines will be available for consideration when the court meets again in February.
County Commissioner Shelby Dupnik said that he had sent copies of Bexar County’s current guidelines to Hancock.
“Herb was tending toward the one from Bexar County because it was a five-page thing but it was simple and pretty well straightforward,” Dupnik said. “It addressed basically attracting industry.”
Dupnik said he had heard comments in the community that were not in favor of giving a tax abatement to a restaurant.
“They would rather see it be for industry or one that really employs a lot of people or brings a lot of tax revenue to the county,” Dupnik said. “We need to sit down with Herb and see what he comes up with.”
“Tax abatements are most beneficial to small businesses who can not afford to open if they get hit with large tax bills,” Chance emphasized. “Larger industry... I understand y’all want to attract the most number of employees. My guess is I will bring in 15 employees when we open.”
Chance said his plan for a new restaurant would fill a need in the community that otherwise might not be met.
“Small businesses are the engine of the economy,” Chance said.
Chance asked the court to consider each tax abatement agreement on a case by case basis.
“It takes a lot of money to start a restaurant. I would like your consideration for small businesses... Small businesses are what we need the most.”
The court took no action on two agenda items related to the adoption of tax abatement guidelines or designation of a reinvestment zone.