The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Election 2013

January 24, 2013

Questions answered: Ward 6 city commission candidates respond

(Continued)

ENID, Okla. — Question: Are these TIF incentives an appropriate means of attracting new investment to the city, or should private industry fund its own development?

De La Cruz

De La Cruz said he’s not necessarily opposed to city incentives for new business, but the incentives need to include locally owned businesses.

“We’ve left out people like the local business owners, who don’t get the benefit of those TIFs,” De La Cruz said.

He said he’s opposed to TIFs for retail development, such as the TIF for Oakwood Mall. He said retail TIFs increase competition for locally owned businesses, and large businesses are more apt to leave town if the economy slows.

“If Staples decides ‘We’re just not cutting it in Enid any more,’ they’ll leave. Can Merrifield (Office Supply) do that? No. Can For You! (Boutique) do that? No. It doesn’t work like that for locally owned businesses, and the city needs to do more for local businesses when they do something for big businesses.”

Meibergen

Meibergen said Enid needs to use incentives, like TIFs, to compete with other communities for new investment.

“Our competing communities are doing it, and we have to show we’re competitive with other communities,” Meibergen said.

He said TIFs are better-suited to industry than retail development, and he supports the TIF for the canola processing plant.

“That deal is huge,” Meibergen said of the Northstar Agri Industries canola plant TIF. “It’s a no-brainer. It’s not going to just impact Enid, it’s going to impact all of Oklahoma and parts of southern Kansas. Northstar is going to be a great member of the community.”

Vanhooser

Vanhooser said the city needs to offer incentives for new industry, but needs to establish an economic development fund so incentives don’t have to be funded by bonds.

“We absolutely need all the industry we can get to Enid,” Vanhooser said. “Getting them here in today’s environment apparently means buying the business, and that’s what a TIF does.”

“One of the things I want to do is develop an economic development fund so we can offer TIFs without borrowing money for bonds and paying interest expenses,” Vanhooser said. “Instead of paying that interest, we could be putting that money back in the fund. If we were able to give TIFs without having to borrow money, and pay interest, we’d be able to offer twice as many TIFs.”

Vanhooser said TIF incentives need to be limited to certain industries, and he’s opposed to the Oakwood Mall TIF.

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Election 2013