Purchase photos

Pieces come together for economic development policy





The last piece of the city of Hays' economic development policy was put in place at Thursday's city commission meeting when commissioners approved the addition of a tax abatement matrix to its existing policy.

The matrix has been a topic of discussion at several recent commission meetings. Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV raised concerns at a March 22 meeting that guidelines on a proposed matrix gave too large of abatements for too small of investments.

Under that proposed matrix, 75-percent and 100-percent abatements could be reached by investing $1 million or $2 million or by creating 26 or 51 jobs, respectively.

"I just don't want to give away the store, so to speak, for such an amazingly low threshold," he said.

Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday night to accept a matrix by which businesses making a maximum capital investment of $30 million could receive 75-percent tax abatement, and businesses investing more than $30 million could receive 100-percent abatement.

In addition, companies will be required to meet both the capital investment criteria and a jobs creation criteria.

Aaron White, Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development executive director, told commissioners the new matrix was "workable."

"Once we get them (new businesses) to look at the community, it's up to the team within the community to finish the approval process," he said.

After expressing thanks to city staff and White for their economic development policy efforts, Schwaller pointed out there will be more challenges for the city in the days ahead.

"Our work going forward needs to focus on the things that are more tangible, more achievable for us," he said. "Fostering start-ups, retaining existing business and trying to tap into the strengths we have in the community, the university and the medical center."

In other business, commissioners:

* Approved 5-0 purchase of a 1.6-acre tract of land, adjacent to the Vineyard Road Park from the Luecke Family Trust at a cost of $7,500. The land will be used for parking and an entrance to the city's nature trail area.

* Unanimously voted to award a contract in the amount of $59,502 to Genesis Environmental Solutions for sand-blasting and painting of a water plant clarifier.

* Passed a resolution 5-0 to establish a benefit district for park improvements to the King's Gate First Addition.

* Approved an engineering services agreement with Ruder Engineering & Surveying for King's Gate park improvements.