“If they ask for a tax abatement, we will have to consider it,” stated members of city council and city staff in answer a KSST News inquiry. The inquiry came after the conclusion of two public hearings regarding the annexation of industrial parks into the city limits of Sulphur Springs.
Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in the council chamber of City Hall, members of the council conducted a second public hearing regarding the annexation of Pioneer Business Park located on the west side of Sulphur Springs, just off I-30, and the annexation of Heritage Business Park located on the east side of Sulphur Springs just off Loop 301. The first public hearings were conducted Tuesday, January 8th, during a January Special Session of the Council. The council will make a decision in their March 5th meeting regarding the annexation of the property.
During the second public hearing, again no one spoke regarding the Heritage Business Park. That park includes Raven Industries, Load Trail, and Armorock Polymer Concrete.
Two individuals whose businesses are located in Pioneer Business Park did question council regarding permits, codes, and advantages of being inside the city limits.
The owner of a storage facility located just across the street from Clayton Homes was concerned about inventory taxation. He moved his business from California to Texas due to the lengthy process of permitting building changes, additions, and inventory taxation. The city council and staff assured him that this is not California. The city staff noted that inventory taxation is rolling throughout the year and inventory tax is not a flat rate based on specific dates. City Staff said the tax bill for the newly incorporated area would be prorated for the year.
Regarding permitting expansion or changes to current facilities, City Manager Marc Maxwell said the city has a quick turnaround on permits for small projects. He noted that most small projects are permitted the day they are requested when the engineering of the project meets code.
They also noted that water and sewer bills will be lowered as soon as they are inside the city. Currently they purchase those services at a fee level for any outside the city limits. It was also noted that in May of this year, the insurance rate for the facility will be lowered thanks to the new ISO rating that will lower fire insurance rates for business and residents.
City sanitation services were also a concern. The owner of the storage facility has recently signed a multi-year contract with a sanitation company and not with Sanitation Solutions that currently serves the city. It was noted that city sanitation services would be negotiable.
The second speaker, who had been present for the first public hearing, said he did not feel his business would be getting anything in return for the taxes paid in annexation. He asked if a grace period could be put in place for industries that needed expansion or changes that must be permitted for code requirements. He wanted an extended time for some work before having to seek a permit. City Attorney Jim McElroy said the city could not offer a grace period due to the ISO insurance rating. He noted one requirement for the lower rating is the code and permit process.
Both City Manager Maxwell and City Attorney McElroy offered their personal mobile phone numbers to the two business leaders present so that they could answer any other questions or respond to needs.
Council will consider the annexation of the property in a final reading in their March regular session on March 5, 2019.