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Tax increment finance district could attract manufacturer

Muskogee Phoenix
August 4, 2015
D.E. Smoot | Phoenix Staff Writer

Port authority lawyer speaks to County Commission about proposal

Muskogee County commissioners convened on Monday the first of two public hearings regarding a proposal to create a tax increment finance district designed to attract a new manufacturing facility.

Dan McMahan, a lawyer who represents the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, provided commissioners with an overview of the proposal and fielded questions from commissioners during the first public hearing. The second public hearing, which is scheduled next week, will be open for public comments before commissioners consider adopting an associated resolution and project plan.

Those documents, which were recommended for approval July 21 by a commissioner-appointed review committee, provide no information about the company being courted by port authority recruiters, but they do offer a glimpse of the company's plans. The plan contemplates private investments totaling $35 million to $40 million for land and buildings during the first three to five years of the proposed project plan and another $140 million to $155 million for furnishings and fixtures during the next seven to 10 years.

Port authority officials anticipate a successful outcome would spur the need for 325 to 350 employees within nine years of the initiation of any manufacturing plant operations. Average salaries for those "jobs are expected to range between $41,000 and $49,000."

The proposed tax increment tax district was designed to capture more than $10.93 million in tax revenue during the course of 22 years. Increased ad valorem taxes generated by the district as a result project development would be used to fund infrastructure improvements worth an estimated $5.6 million and incentives worth nearly $3.28 million — the balance would be used to pay administrative costs and service debts.

"This incentive package has been tailored to this company with an eye toward doing what it takes to get the company here," McMahan said Monday during his presentation. "They (port authority officials) have been careful to tailor this package to just those features they think will have the most bang for the buck: They are trying very hard to attract this company without leaving any money on the table."

Commissioners quizzed McMahan about various aspects of the proposal, with most of their questions based on concerns that it won't obligate expenditure's from the county's general fund. They also questioned the duration of the proposed TIF district, a facet of the plan for which District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke expressed support.

"The county has been accused in the past of creating incentives where the company comes in for a few years and then they're gone," Doke said. "At least with this type of incentive that stretches out over a longer period of time, the company has to be here" to continue receiving its benefits.

Eric Miller, director of the port authority's economic development division, said creating the TIF district would make the county more competitive when it comes to luring "capital-intensive projects." But he cautioned against being overly optimistic.

"The creation of this district makes us more competitive for capital-intensive projects and sends a message to corporations that we will do what is necessary to bring them here," Miller said, speaking in generalities. "This doesn't necessarily mean we are going to win any project, but it certainly means we are going to be able to compete."

The second — and final — public hearing is scheduled to take place at 8:15 a.m. Aug. 11 during a special commissioners' meeting in the basement of the courthouse annex, 400 W. Broadway. Commissioners will consider adoption of the resolution and project plan upon the conclusion of public comments.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

Source: http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/tax-increment-finance-district-could-attract-manufacturer/article_17bc3da8-3a25-11e5-94bf-2b45e4ed326f.html

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