City Council Approves Tire Ordinance, Revokes Ocean Spray Tax Abatement

City officials gave approval on first reading Tuesday night an ordinance to provide regulation of tire businesses, and decided to revoke an existing Ocean Spray tax abatement.

Ordinance No. 2746 would amend Chapter 15 of Sulphur Springs Municipal Code, by adding Article VII, Sections 15-301 and 15-308, requiring tire businesses to cover used and scrap tires on the property, make sure they remain within a fence and will limit the number of scrap or old tires a business can have on its property.

The ordinance will be brought before the council again for second reading and final approval at a future meeting, with noted changes regarding number of tires allowable and the length of time the business has to remove scrap or old tires if found to be in violation of the ordinance.

Council members also opted to follow city staff’s recommendations that the tax abatement granted to Ocean Spray Cranberries for $5 million in improvements. The company failed to meet the terms of the abatement, which were to maintain its labor force of 143 and a minimum payroll of $1.8 million. Since that time, 13 jobs have been lost, reportedly due to efficiency of operations. The company had requested a reduction in the abatement proportionate to the reduction in labor.

The matter was first proposed at the May council meeting but was tabled pending consultation with the Economic Development Corporation officials for a recommendation. EDC Director Roger Feagley told city officials since they were not party to the contract it would not be appropriate for him to weigh in, city officials said.

Feagley did say all three options being considered were viable: canceling the abatement, modifying it to the number of regular employees, lowering the abatement to correspond with the number of employees. He cautioned them to consider that when companies update technology, it may mean jobs lost on the lower end, but five jobs added at a higher pay scale because they are for more skilled positions.

The city council voted to revoke the abatement altogether.

The council also during the meeting approved Resolution 1169 designating the finance director and city manager as signatories for the city, authorized to request funds under Tx CDBG 7218942 grant contract; and Resolution 1170 reaffirming policies previously adopted by the city to ensure compliance with federal rule and regulations regarding citizens participation and civil rights protections.

Mayor Norman Sanders also proclaimed June Fair Housing Month. The Civil Rights Act 1968 prohibits discrimination in housing. Designating June as Fair Housing Month provides an “opportunity for all American to recognize that the complete success of the goal of equal housing opportunities can only be accomplished with the help and cooperation of all Americans,” Sanders read from the proclamation. He then urged “all citizens of this locality to become aware of and support the fair housing law.”

Sanders too invited community members to Celebration Plaza Saturday June 29, to the annual Independence Day Celebration.

“I’d like to see everyone up there. It’s always a lot of fun,” he said.

Author: Faith Huffman

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