County eyes tax breaks for warehouses


By LPR Staff

As 2008 draws to a close, the Caldwell County Commissioners considered ways to stimulate economic growth in the New Year.

Lockhart’s Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin teamed with Luling Chamber of Commerce president Trey Bailey to ask the Court to add another tool to the business recruitment “toolbox,”

a Freeport Tax Exemption, which will exempt certain businesses from paying taxes on inventory that will be shipped to other locations within 175 days.

The exemption is similar to the “super Freeport” exemption, which the Commissioners approved last year.
According to Bailey and Mauldin, Caldwell County has missed several economic development opportunities because the Freeport Exemption is not in place. The tax break, they said, will enhance the attractiveness of the county, which is already geographically desirable for warehouse and distribution businesses.

The Freeport Tax Exemption allows businesses to become exempt from taxation on products manufactured or stored in Caldwell County that will be shipped to another state within 175 days. Presently, only handful of businesses serve to benefit from the exemption. Mauldin and Bailey hope to use the exemption to lure businesses to the area, particularly when construction of State Highway 130 is complete and the area becomes a veritable hub for shipping.

“The small amount that we might lose by offering this exemption will be far outweighed by the gains in property tax and job creation when these businesses come to the area,” Bailey told the Commissioners.

Bailey has already approached the City of Luling and the Luling Independent School District to discuss enacting the exemption, and Mauldin said she plans to make similar presentations to the City of Lockhart and the Lockhart ISD in early 2009.

Although he expressed concern that the Commissioners were given little opportunity to research or consider the measure, Caldwell County Judge HT Wright expressed reserved support for the exemption.

“I know that there are some businesses that have been here for many years, that will be concerned that they weren’t offered these kinds of incentives,” he said. “And when you’re a small county without the resources of the counties around you, it’s hard to think and talk about offering these sorts of incentives. Still, I think that the more we can do to bring business into the county, the better.”

The rest of the Court seemed to agree, as they voted unanimously to offer the exemption beginning in the 2009 tax year.

Once offered, Bailey said, the Freeport Tax Exemption cannot be repealed by the county.

In brief news:
The Commissioners briefly considered the outdoor burning ban. Noting this year has been among the driest in Caldwell County history, the Court voted to leave the burn ban in place.

They nominated Gary Dickenson to serve on the board of the Caldwell County Foundation Farm. Dickenson currently serves on the board, and his term was set to expire in January.

The court approved reports from several county department heads, and approved surety bonds for several Caldwell County employees.

The county paid bills in the amount of $116,236.38, which includes $18,890.78 in indigent legal defense.

The Caldwell County Commissioners hold regular meetings on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month in Room 100 of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings begin at 9 a.m., and are open to the public.


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