Rebates extend to Meadows |

Rebates extend to Meadows

Glenwood Meadows merchants could receive $1 million or more in rebates under a city economic development program.The stores are eligible for a program offering rebates of city development fees paid by new businesses, or existing ones relocating within town.The rebates are being made even as existing businesses, such as those downtown, are striving to compete with the massive new commercial development. Yet the program has its origins in the city’s efforts to help a longtime local business move downtown. The city was seeking to help ease the costs of the Bayou Cajun Restaurant & Bar’s relocation, which was completed last year.City Council member Dave Merritt said when the city looked into providing rebates, it decided that out of fairness it had to extend the offer to all new or relocating businesses. He said there was a lot of discussion at the time about the implications of the rebate for Glenwood Meadows, and the concern about how it would affect competing businesses.”We were told that there was no way that we could have it not extend there,” he said.Sue Sharpe, president of the Downtown Business Association, said she wasn’t aware of the rebate program, and hasn’t heard anyone within the DBA discuss it either. She said she wasn’t prepared to comment on it.City finance director Mike Harman said it’s still too early to know just how much the city will be refunding, but it could be between $800,000 and $1.3 million.However, the reimbursements wouldn’t be made all at once. A business could apply for up to five consecutive years until the fees are fully reimbursed. But the rebate amount in a given year can’t exceed 20 percent of the total city sales tax paid by the business that year.Harman said the city budgeted $467,000 for reimbursements this year, but that figure probably will turn out to be high.Businesses can seek rebates of fees for water and sewer system improvements, fire and emergency service impacts, and electric line extensions. Although Glenwood Meadows merchants are escaping paying some city fees, the development also is providing a financial bonanza to the city that should exceed many times over what will be returned through rebates.”We’re generating the sales tax from it. Yeah, it’s being offset by those (rebated) fees, but it’s a cost of a getting a new business,” Merritt said. “We’re trying to provide an encouragement there.”Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext.

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