Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Policy on Tax Incentives Looks Promising

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Policy on Tax Incentives Looks Promising

Article excerpt

Let the debate begin.

The two top honchos of the Jacksonville Economic Development

Commission met with reporters and editors of The Florida

Times-Union yesterday to preview a long-awaited, and very

much-needed, policy on the use of incentives to encourage

businesses to relocate to Jacksonville or to expand here.

The policy will be formally presented to the full commission

today and then will go to the City Council for an up or down

vote.

Regular readers of this column know that I'm not a fan of the

tax giveaways usually included in the incentive packages, but

credit must be given where credit is due.

The policy outlined yesterday by the commission's chairman, Tom

Petway, and the commission's executive director, Mike Weinstein,

contains some surprisingly bold strokes.

The boldest move of all is the proposed elimination of

incentive packages for businesses in the southern and eastern

parts of the county.

Using tax giveaways to lure more growth to those already

overcrowded and infrastructure-nightmare corridors ceased to make

sense a long time ago.

This new policy finally recognizes that and directs that

incentives be used to encourage business growth on the city's

north and west sides, areas that were neglected in the past

while the southern part of the city boomed.

Petway stressed, as does the policy, that economic development

and growth management are so intertwined that they have become

synonymous.

That recognition, too, has been a long time in coming.

Directing economic development to areas ready to handle growth

-- staying ahead of the curve, in other words -- is the only way

to prevent the creation of more horrors such as the Butler

Boulevard parking lot.

The new policy also addresses another issue that should be of

critical concern to Jacksonville taxpayers -- the habit of

rebating property taxes to businesses. …

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