By RASMI HUNT
Following a similar deal from the City of San Marcos, H-E-B received a property tax rebate agreement for a warehouse expansion Tuesday from the Hays County Commissioners Court.
Under the agreement, the county would rebate 100 percent of the property taxes generated by an increase of taxable property value as the local grocery giant doubles its San Marcos distribution warehouse from its present footprint of 750,000 square feet.
H-E-B requested the 20-year, incentive-based agreement so it could make six expansions of its warehouse on a newly acquired 47.5-acre tract adjacent to its location at 2301 Hunter Road. After an avid discussion, the commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.
Amy Madison, economic development for San Marcos, said the expansion will provide the area with 320 new full-time jobs, in addition to the 534 currently employed within the facility.
“I think this more of a business retention and expansion project, which is the backbone of economic development,” Madison said. “Holding hands with the companies that are in your backyard, planning for the future, and looking at the master plan for that future, I think that partnership is more important in economic development than any other single thing that we can potentially do.”
Hays County Judge Elizabeth Sumter (D-Wimberley) voiced concern that produce trucks would contribute to increased traffic flow in the area, suggesting a deleterious effect on local commuters. H-E-B spokesperson and Director of Licensing Michael Mims said such problems are unlikely because the company’s trucks do not make their runs during rush hour.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) said the project will greatly benefit the community and help provide an economic future for the next generation. The City of San Marcos unanimously approved a similar measure last month.
“I think this is a no-brainer,” Conley said. “It’s tax-positive, it’s creating jobs, it’s retaining jobs and it’s giving people opportunities. That’s our job – to ensure that our citizens have well-paying jobs to support their families.”
The first phase of the expansion is set for 2010.
The court also is likely to re-appointment Kyle Mayor Miguel Gonzalez to represent Hays County cities at the Capitol Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO). Sumter moved in December to replace Gonzalez with Woodcreek Mayor Gloria Whitehead, former chair of the Hays County Democratic Party.
The court discussed allowing Gonzalez to serve one term and then making a new appointment for a two-year term in 2010. Candidates for the position can be nominated by Hays County mayors, who would give those names to the court for consideration. An alternate position, which remains to be filled, can be go to either a commissioner or a mayor.
In a traffic-related item, the court approved the purchase of two traffic count devices for the Road and Bridge Department from Timemark, Inc. for no more than $2,948 total. The devices will be used to conduct countywide traffic studies and thereby provide accurate assessment of traffic trends in the area.
Tim Vandevorde, Hays County Road Department Operations Superintendent, said his crew would normally use an electronic device that is planted under the road pavement to measure traffic trends. But such devices require cutting into the pavement.
“Since we have some nicer pavement on the roads, we want to try to stay away cutting into that,” Vandevorde said. “What we are looking into are pneumatic tubes which cross the road with a splitter in the middle of the road and it’ll collect information from traffic from each direction in each lane.”
The new device would be run speed calculations, vehicle classifications and vehicle counts, among other tasks. The information would provide data to calculate peak traffic times.
“The pneumatic tubes will also be much easier to re-install and transport to different locations because it won’t involve breaking the pavement,” Vandevorde said.
The court previously ordered radar speed units, which the county expects to receive by the end of January.