By Steve Van Gorden
The city of Zephyrhills has a significant opportunity to entice business to the industrial corridor with the passage of an economic incentive zone.
Some have balked at this idea due to the fact it would label the areas within the zone as brownfields. Let me be clear, my stance on this is simply one to promote economics.
A little background regarding the properties under consideration may be beneficial. City Council removed all the residential properties from the originally proposed economic incentive zone, a good move on their part, reducing the proposed area by about 75 percent to roughly 1,100 acres. A portion of the remaining acreage under consideration is privately owned lots, while the majority is owned by the city.
It was not made clear as to whether the private property owners were in favor of the zoning, and so during discussion at the last City Council meeting Councilman Kenny Burgess suggested that the city might at least consider zoning for the city properties while allowing private property owners to request incentive zoning at their own initiative. It is my belief that Councilman Kenny Burgess was right on target singling out city properties for designation of the economic zone.
Nonetheless, a motion to not approve any designation of properties as part of an economic incentive zone passed on a 3-2 vote. The two council members who voted against the motion (in favor of the economic incentive zone) were Councilman Lance Smith and Councilwoman Jodi Wilkeson.
It is important to reverse this decision for several reasons. The Pasco County Commission will be moving forward designating the adjacent and nearby county property an economic incentive zone regardless of what the city of Zephyrhills does. This will encourage business to go to Pasco County, as properties owned by the city of Zephyrhills will be at an incentives disadvantage. The loss of revenue and the loss of job growth could be significant.
Another concern voiced regarding the economic incentive zone is the false understanding that the area is contaminated. This is not necessarily true. The state language states the area MAY be contaminated. It is quite possible it is NOT.
In my opinion, we need to bring jobs to this community. I see bright young minds leaving Zephyrhills after graduation because jobs just aren’t available. It is my belief that businesses will come here with this incentive due to the proximity to major markets and the tax credits that would be given for each job created. The tax incentives to business are significant draws. Why undersell ourselves? Why make it difficult for a business to relocate? Why would we find it in our best interest to turn down incentives certain to lead to economic growth?
Please join me in supporting this economic incentive to entice business to locate in the city of Zephyrhills. Please email the City Council and let them know you support Councilman Burgess’ position of allowing economic incentive zones on the designated city-owned property.
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