Tonight the Paris City Council met at its regular meeting and the big topic during the citizen’s forum was Item 16 on the agenda. The item was the discussion and possible action on conducting a special election regarding the termination of the quarter cent economic development tax and adoption of a quarter cent municipal sales and use tax for street maintenance. Meaning the election would ask citizens if they want to continue having their quarter cent tax going to the Paris Economic Development Corp, or would they prefer their tax going to something else such as roads.
Individuals came before council to ask the item be tabled. Those who spoke included Sims Norment who stated, “I encourage you to leave the EDC in place as we are so isolated in Paris it is important to recruit new industry into our tax base and create new jobs. With new jobs and economic development we won’t have to worry about the roads in Paris. Pam Anglin, President of Paris Junior College informed the council that “the college has recently conducted a program gap study. In this study over the next 10 years there are not a lot of jobs coming to Paris except for low paying jobs. We need economic development to recruit industry and higher paying jobs for the community,” said Anglin.
Michael Paris, Director for the PEDC spoke on being a 4A EDC. The Texas Legislature amended the Development Corporation Act of 1979 by adding Section 4A, which allows the creation of development corporations that could be funded by the imposition of a local sales tax dedicated to economic development. “Becoming a 4A EDC has allowed a economic development corp. of our size to compete with larger cities. The PEDC has been critical with Body Guard, Turner Industries, Campbell Soup, Kimberly Clark and others.”
Councilwoman Lancaster opened the discussion stating “the EDC tax has not changed since 1993. I feel it is prudent for the citizens to vote on continuing the EDC quarter tax or moving that tax to streets and infrastructure. I think we should have an election in November to see what our citizens want.” There was banter back and forth between council members before the motion passed 3 to 2.
After the meeting we spoke with Michael Paris, “the voters decided in 1993 that they wanted a 4A organization, now council members have chosen to take this to the citizens to have them decide again. It is important for voters to know that a 4A organization brings specific monies from specific industries to the city. When you move to become a 4B EDC you dilute industry development. A 4A corp was designed to create primary jobs for Paris and a 4B will not. When will someone step up and make Paris the first class community it should be. I am very disappointed and those members who voted yes to the election are not helping us create a strategic vision for this great city. We need champions.” he said.
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