‘Positive economic commitments’ forecast

David Barkemeyer
Milam County Judge

A t the April 8 commissioner’s court meeting we approved the first request for an abatement under the new county Tax Phase-In Program that was adopted last year to encourage business and industry to locate to or expand in Milam County.

Recently county, city, and school officials met with Charlot te Pipe corporate leaders from North Carolina who were considering where to locate an expansion of their facilities in the southwest.

Of course we thought they should do it here at their facilities in Cameron.

By working together we were able to offer them our tax “phase-in” program which commissioner’s court had developed and adopted last year and that the cities of Cameron, Rockdale, and Thorndale have also adopted so that we in Milam County can offer companies a unified approach in our efforts to attract investment and new jobs to our area.

In addition the city and school district adopted the freeport exemption on inventory held for less than 175 days which the county had in place. We feel that these incentives helped convince the Charlotte Pipe management to locate their expansion here.

I know that some of you may be thinking, why are you giving up all that revenue by abating those tax dollars?

The thing I want to stress to those of you that might be skeptical about what we are doing is that nowadays the competition for business and industry has become very intense among cities, counties, states, and even among countries.

So it’s a “Catch 22”. You’ve got to do it if you hope to attract new investment and jobs to your town or county.

I cal led the program tax “phase-In” because it’s just that. If you get new investment and thus new tax base into the county, you’ll eventually get new taxes once the abatement phases out and the taxes “phase in” on the new property. In the meantime, the town and county benefit from the new jobs, the sales tax, and so on. This “phase-in” that we’ve approved for Charlotte Pipe is likely going to be just the first of several that will be presented to commissioners court in the next few months.

I’ve been approached by at least three other prospects that are considering applying.

As you’ve probably been seeing in the news, our governor and the state of Texas is very aggressive in trying to attract business and jobs to Texas, and with great success.

Recently, I along with several representatives from the city of Cameron met with Scott Smith in the Governor’s Economic Development Office in Austin to discuss some of the questions that have been asked regarding grants and incentives offered by the state and to get an update on help they might give us in Milam County.

Scott was very helpful in bringing us up to date, and just generally gave us some good advice.

Representatives from state representative Marsha Farney’s office who had helped me arrange the meeting were there also and will continue to work with us.

In summary, I’m encouraged by the amount of recent business activity, that our county economy may finally be starting to show some signs of growth.

Halliburton has purchased property and will be installing a large test facility north of Cameron. Oil leasing and drilling continues on the increase as well.

More positive economic news seems a sure thing in the months ahead.

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