Debate Magazine

Last Night's Council Meeting--Incentives

By Kelly058
The success of the incentives is being gauged on revenue projections. Last night staff projected increased revenues of $4 million over the next five years from downtown restaurants who have received incentives. A few questions-- What are those projections based on? Good points were made last night by Council members recognizing potential costs to the city for certain types of business which would affect the city's bottom line. And in the end, when using taxpayers' dollars, the city's bottom line is what is important. What about other factors that impact revenue projections such as competition and limited parking? And what about those projections?
Two of the restaurants who are receiving incentives, Castiglias and Kybecca, are established businesses and are currently paying taxes to the city. In setting up projections are we counting their total revenues per year or just projected increases in revenue after improvements? In regards to the remaining restaurants, Capital Ale, Bavarian Chef and Longstreet's they took over from restaurants which failed. Are we factoring in the lost revenues to the city from the failed restaurants?
Then there is the issue as to whether some of these restauraunts would have either located to Fredericksburg or made improvements without the incetives they were later give. Contrary to some statemetns made the incentive program was not intended to reward business. It was to help ensure the financial stablity of the city and keep the tax burden on city resdients as low as possible.
The questions from Councilors Devine and Solley last night were good ones but they acknowledged that at this point the city has taken a passive approach to the incentives program. The concerns expressed were that any business could apply for incentives. This approach was confirmed by staff that at this point the city is waiting for businesses to apply. The primary intent of the program was not to be passive; or to just make it easier for existing businesses to apply, but rather to pro-active in attracting businesses which met long term goals of economic diversity, sustainability, and attracting businesses that fit the city's character. It's about having the resources to help provide a good quality of life without becoming a financial burden to residents.
The incentive program can help Fredericksburg meet its goal of financial stability while providing an affordable and good quality of life for residents. To date the program has had a positive impact. However, it's time to reevaluate and make changes to the program to ensure it is meeting the goals originally established and that the effort is being made to achieve them. However, one got the sense last night that while Council may be prepared to make some small changes, it is prepared to call the incentives program a success-- simply based on revenue projections. What about sustainability, higher paying jobs, diversifying the city tax base, and city character?

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