It was a small crowd Tuesday night at the regular Mesquite City Council meeting with a somewhat simple agenda.
The Economic Development Ad-Hoc Incentives Committee, led by Chairman Dan Wright, presented a summation of what they would recommend the City do to bring more businesses to the area, including using discounts on land purchases from the City when meeting specific investment and operational levels.
Wright stated that the committee recommended the discounts be based on three simple, but very vital, factors: capital investments, number of jobs created and the minimum hourly wage level. If a company was to invest $1 million in actual building costs, hire and maintain 50 employees who earned an average wage that was 125% above the statewide or county average, they could then earn a 90% discount off of land purchased from the City.
While this may seem like a lot to give away just to bring business to Mesquite, the City owns just over 3500 acres throughout the city limits all the way to Exit 112. All of that land is currently sitting unused and does not generate revenue. The committee, who met a total of eight times throughout the past three months, sees the selling with incentives as a win-win scenario for the City.
Wright also presented the committee’s recommendation of setting aside 25% of the funds that would be placed into a special Economic Development Fund that would provide for other incentives that would be possible. This fund could be used for smaller businesses that might not have the capital investment monies or for existing businesses who want to expand and get a little bit of an incentive from the City to do so.
Overall, the Council seemed quite pleased with the presentation. “This is leaps and bounds above anything that we (the City) have ever attempted before,” said Councilman George Rapson. Councilwoman Cindi Delaney also agreed stated “This above and beyond what I expected to get, thank you very much.”
The council voted unanimously to Rapson’s motion to accept the presentation and to figure out how to get local real estate brokers involved with incentives to help get rid of the lane as well as setting up the rest of the recommendations to get this running soon. Councilman Rich Green agreed with Rapson’s motion, but requested that the soft-incentives portion of the presentation be placed at a higher priority than it was at in the presentation.
Other business for Tuesday’s meeting included approving a contractual raise for City Attorney Robert Sweetin. After a short presentation of his accomplishments over the past six months, the council agreed with a vote of 5-0 that he had earned an increase. His accomplishments include a better system to review civil claims that come against the city, working out the ones that might be frivolous before sending them on to the City’s insurance company for payment. Sweetin will receive a 5% increase in pay, which has been budgeted. Per the employment agreement, he will be eligible for another pay increase at this time next year.
The final item of the night was to set a Public Hearing to get community feedback on proposed residency rules for employees of the City of Mesquite. The hearing will be on the next regular council meeting which is set for Tuesday, June 23 at 5 p.m. The proposed Ordinance 494 would require employees to live within fifteen miles of the City of Mesquite. Per the agenda item memo, all current collective bargaining agreements with residency clauses would not be affected by the passage of this ordinance.