Proposition Discussed at Grapeland Lions Meeting

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – During a meeting of the Grapeland Noon Lions Club held on Thursday, March 15, Lion Brandon Bridges gave a presentation concerning possible changes to the Grapeland Economic Development Corporation (GEDC).

Bridges – who sits on the GEDC Board of Directors – opened his remarks and said the EDC had an opportunity for “… conversion to what is a called a Municipal Development District (MDD).”

He explained an MDD is funded the same way as an EDC, put together for the same purposes of an EDC but has less regulation than an EDC.

As he continued, Bridges distributed a handout to Lions Club members which stated, “MDDs allow cities to impose a special dedicated sales tax to fund cultural, recreational and economic development similar to those authorized for Type B EDCs.”

The GEDC is a Type B organization.

He said the proposition would be on the May ballot and if it was approved by voters, it would give the city several advantages over the current Type B EDC.

Bridges stressed this WAS NOT a tax increase and said “We’re going to stop giving the half cent sales tax to the EDC and start giving it to the MDD.”

“The main reasons we want to do this are two-fold,” Bridges continued. “First of all, an MDD has less regulation. Right now if I have a project the EDC is working on and we decide we want to approve it – currently – we would approve it, take it to the city council and they have to approve it in the exact same manner as we did. If they change it, we have to change it as well and then bring it back to the city council. Then, there is a 60 day waiting period to do all of our public notices.”

The GEDC board member gave an example of the time frame and said it recently took him three months to complete a $3,000 project.

“The second reason is funding. The sales tax we collect right now is within the city limits of Grapeland. If you have a business within the city limits of Grapeland, you charge 8.25 percent sales tax,” he said.

Under the laws governing EDCs, Bridges explained the only tax revenue available came from within the city limits but, under an MDD, it would allow the city of Grapeland to increase the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction which is one-half mile outside the current city limits.

“Ultimately, this is a city decision. The city of Grapeland has the authority to put this on the ballot and they have chosen to do so,” he said.

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