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Lockhart County Commissioners mull economic incentives

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By Miles Smith
Editor / POST-REGISTER

The Caldwell County Commissioners Court is looking at drawing up a plan that could ultimately create more jobs for local contractors and subcontractors.
At their last meeting, commissioners voted to pursue the creation of an economic development incentive policy. The county currently has no policy in place that creates tax or monetary incentives that encourage contractors to employ local help.
Commissioners Terry Wright and Ed Theriot are proponents of the plan, Wright said.
“I’ve been preaching this since before I came on board,” said Wright, who was formally appointed to the board by County Judge Ken Schawe in December. “I’m hoping we can get something in place in the next six months.”
Wright said he wanted to see the county work with Lockhart, Luling and other towns or communities in Caldwell County to have similar goals and economic incentive programs, noting that the county would be “stronger and more effective if we have common goals.”
“I want to make sure that Luling, Lockhart and the rest of the county are all on the same page,” Wright said. “Currently, less than 10 percent of our local construction companies are getting used on projects when these general contractors come to the area. We need incentives to be in place.
“We have a concrete guy who consistently gets work (on construction projects that are led by outside general contractors), but that’s pretty much it.”
Wright offered three ideas for structuring incentives.
– A percentage of local trade businesses used of the total project cost, where, basically, the higher the percentage of local trade business used, the higher the incentive.
– Tracking and furnishing a record of local bids obtained to prove an effort on the part of companies to use local trades. It could be a varying incentive based on the percentage of the total cost of the project.
– Including community support activity dollars such as scholarships (High Schools and Go Texas), Chamber of Commerce memberships, Jr. Livestock Show, Luling Livestock Show, and various contributions to entities like the Southwest Clock and Watch Museum, Cinco De Mayo, the old jail museum, and more.
Wright said incentives would especially make a difference on projects that don’t result in a lot of job creation.
“Let’s say you’ve got a warehouse going in that’s 4,000 square feet but it’s only going to employ three or four people,” Wright said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get some of that money back to the county.”
Schawe agreed an incentive plan was something the county needed. While many corporations have their own general contractors, the attitude toward subcontractors is not as obdurate.
“Whether it’s Benny Boyd or XYZ Company, we need to encourage them to use local contractors to complete these jobs,” the county judge said.
Another policy that could soon make its way to Caldwell County is one intended to prevent public nuisances like trash piling up in yards or on properties. Commissioners voted at the last meeting to begin pursuing the creation of some rules and regulations.
“We’ll just look at going ahead and making it more formal,” Schawe said. “If people have a lot of trash and won’t clean it up, we could take action like fining them or putting liens on their property, althought I don’t think that’s usually what it would come to.
“Basically, we don’t have anything like that, and we’ll look at getting something in place in the next year.”
In other action, Commissioners:
– Voted not to reenact the burn ban. Residents in the county can still practice responsible controlled burning as long as winds stay under 21 mph.
– Approved the reappointments of David Murdock, Jack Mudd, and Richard Salmon to two-year terms as commissioners for Caldwell County Emergency Services District No. 3
– Approved the reappointments of Ronnie Duesterheft and Tony Collins for two-year terms as commissioners for Caldwell County Emergency Services District No. 2.

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