Council Looks at Economic Incentives Plan

By Rivedal, Karen | The Florida Times Union, May 1, 1998 | Go to article overview

Council Looks at Economic Incentives Plan


Rivedal, Karen, The Florida Times Union


With several questions and some mixed feelings, City Council

members yesterday took a detailed look at a new proposal that

would change how Jacksonville hands out its economic incentives.

And the cautious response it received at the afternoon workshop

could be a predictor of how the measure will fare in committee

hearings next week. That's when the new proposal banning

incentives in the city's congested southeast side, plus making

other changes, will be up for its first vote.

"It will help us grow in a way we need to grow," said Tom

Petway, chairman of the Jacksonville Economic Development

Commission, which developed and already has approved the policy.

"We need to be competitive with everybody else out there in the

world."

But council members, who long have called for such a policy,

did not seem inclined to accept it on good intentions alone.

While praising the policy's creation, some questioned its

details.

Councilman Howard Dale, for example, asked Petway exactly what

the city's budget for incentives was and why they weren't

focused only on businesses that produce high-paying jobs. Dale

also wondered how Petway could be sure that some techniques,

such as tax-increment financing, really were a net positive for

the city.

"I cannot accept that on faith," Dale said.

Petway said the city's deal makers can structure a

tax-increment arrangement to avoid losses, since those

incentives are awarded only after a business creates the jobs or

makes the other investments it has promised. …

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