Crockett Council Agrees to Tax Abatement for Possible Auto Dealership

Rate Hike for Water / Sewage Approved

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – During a called meeting of the Crockett City Council held on Monday, Aug. 15 the matter of a tax abatement for a potential new auto dealership to be located in Crockett was brought before the council for consideration.

The Crockett Economic and Industrial Development Corporation Executive Director (CEIDC), Flint Brent said, “I am here to request the ability to enter into negotiations with a potential (auto) dealership, brand new – not used – about moving to Crockett. We are one of three locations currently being considered and we are the only location here in the State of Texas. The other two are in Mississippi and Alabama.”

“I spent last Wednesday,” he continued, “taking them on the grand tour of Crockett. I showed them where the high school was, where the houses were and the lots in town that were available and they were interested in. I told them I would do whatever I could to help secure them here, since we have no (new) dealerships. I have prepared (a document) that shows what the tax abatements would generate for the city. The rates I used were for 2015 for the city Crockett ISD and the hospital district. “

The document showed the abatement would help generate $375,000 for CISD, $45,000 for the hospital district and $85,325.10 for the City of Crockett over a six year period.

“That is just based on an estimate. It may be larger, they may have more inventory and I’m just going off of what I think cost of the building may be,” he said.

Mayor Robert Meadows questioned if this was a conservative estimate or if the numbers were inflated and Brent informed him these were very conservative estimates based on a $5 million building cost.

“What I’m asking is for you (the council) to allow me to take action and negotiate a property tax abatement to secure this dealership,” Brent said.

The mayor sought clarification and asked, “You’re asking so that you can have something to bring to the table? You want to show good faith on the city’s part that we want a dealership here? This is $500,000 that we currently don’t have?”

Brent replied yes to all the questions and added, “The lots I showed them have nothing but grass on them. All the city is receiving is what empty property is paying, which is not that much. This is coming out of the ground capital investment which will cause them to hire people here and then when it is constructed it will mean several jobs, paying good money.”

Meadows added, “They will buy fuel, they will shop our retail and they will eat at our local restaurants.”

“It will also bring people from out of town to shop for vehicles,” Brent said. “And of course, once you get your first one, they’re kind of like an Outback (restaurant). Have you ever noticed that certain places are around Outback’s wherever you go? That’s because they let other people do the demographic research and say let’s consider this place.”

Council Member Jeannie Julian asked Brent if the CEIDC gave tax abatements to everyone bringing a business to town.

Brent replied no because “… a lot of people don’t come to us and ask.”

“So, if they don’t come to economic development, they don’t get anything?” Julian asked.

“I can’t help those who don’t come to us. I don’t just go knocking on doors and asking if someone wants an abatement,” Brent responded.

“Those are just questions asked of me because not everybody got anything,” she said.

After a few more moments of discussion, the matter of the abatement was approved by unanimous consent.

Next on the agenda was a public hearing on the FY 2017 proposed budget for the City of Crockett. No one in attendance spoke for or against the budget and the hearing was closed after a few moments.

Following the public hearing an ordinance was approved making appropriations for the support of the sinking fund and adopting the annual budget for the City of Crockett for FY 2017.

A second ordinance was also approved which increased the rate for commercial water service, for water outside the city limits and for bulk water sales. The ordinance also increased the rates for sewer service.

The approved rates for FY 2017 are $24.67 for the first 2,000 of water and $4.89 for anything over 2,000. The rates for commercial water will be $34.71 for the first 2,000 gallons and $4.89 for anything over 2,000 gallons. The rates for water service outside of the of the Crockett city limits will be twice what those inside the city are.  Bulk water service would be priced at a rate of $400 and an additional $19 per thousand gallons.

The approved rates for sewer service in FY 2017 are $24.67 for the first 2,000 of water and $2.42 for anything over 2,000. The rates for commercial sewer service will be $34.71 for the first 2,000 gallons and $2.42 for anything over 2,000 gallons. Customers will also be charged $1.06 for a sewer meter fee.

The previous rates in FY 2016 for water were $23.95 for residential service and $33.70 for commercial service.  The previous rates in FY 2016 for sewer service were $23.95 for residential service and $33.70 for commercial service.

Prior to the tax abatement approval, Jason Hodges, Paul Clebourn and Ronnie Blaker addressed the council during the public comments portion of the council session. All three spoke on the topic of an upcoming event to be held in Crockett on Sept. 9.

The event is called UnityFest and is a joint effort towards racial harmony in the community, sponsored by St. Luke’s Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Crockett. This is the second year of the event which features BBQ Cook Off, a burger cook-off and a baked bean competition.

In a previous interview with The Messenger, Hodges said there would be games available such as horseshoes and cornhole. He added all proceeds will go to the youth groups of St. Luke’s and First Baptist, “… to help buy school supplies, something they may need or go to camp. It all goes to the kids.”

The council also gave its approval to closing the 1100 block of MLK Blvd. between Curtis St. and Oak St. between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a back to school fun day on Aug. 19.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.