Last Modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:33 AMSULPHUR — Sulphur is not accepting new Tax Increment Financing agreements until it can put program guidelines into place.
The program, which offers sales tax rebates to new or expanding businesses, is not new, but guidelines determining the businesses’ responsibilities have never been set, Mayor Chris Duncan said.
Duncan said the city will honor the two TIF requests it has recently received from Billy Navarre Chevrolet and LeBleu’s Landing, a new restaurant opening in Sulphur.
Voted in place in 2007, the current TIF amendment rebates 8 percent of an approved business’s construction costs, up to $1 million, over a 10-year period through a 1 percent return of sales taxes. The only current requirement for the business is that it be within the city limits.
“We foresee getting a bunch in, and we want to make sure that we are giving them truly for economic development,” Duncan said. “We have two frontage roads going in, and anybody that builds there has a right to send us a letter.”
For instance, Duncan said, if a company requests TIF rebates to move from one building to another, is the move going to create new jobs and more sales tax?
“These are the things that we need to put in place,” Duncan said. “What’s the economic benefit for our area, or are we just taking dollars that we should have gotten before and shifting it to this new building and getting no economic boom out of it, as a matter of fact losing?”
Councilman Mike Koonce echoed those sentiments at Monday’s council meeting.
“I think we ought to put something in there to hold them accountable for jobs. If they say they’re going to increase by 20 jobs, I think they ought to have 20 jobs increase to fulfill their part of the obligation,” he said.
Duncan said Sulphur has paid out $163,000 in TIF rebates during the current fiscal year — to Mead’s Garage, Auto Plex 2000, Billy Navarre, Stine Lumber and Don Shetler Ford.