PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Local News

January 3, 2013

'The Breeze' backs petition to expand sales tax use

PORT ARTHUR — Despite a series of relocations and a period of silence, “The Breeze” radio station aims to keep on blowing, one way or another.

The Port Arthur-based, low power FM radio station submitted a petition to the city secretary Dec. 21 that — if approved — would place a proposition on the May election ballot, asking voters if they want to use tax proceeds for entertainment-related projects.

“The Breeze” collected more than the required 1,400 signatures needed to get a proposition on the ballot, and the city secretary’s office had 30 days to verify that the signatures on the petition belonged to voters who were registered in Port Arthur.

If the petition is certified by the city secretary’s office by Jan. 20, it goes to the city council. Then it would be placed on the May ballot so Port Arthur voters could decide if they want their sales and use taxes funneled into entertainment-related projects.

Currently, the Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation is funded through sales tax revenue, called the 4A Sales and Use Tax. This type of tax, under Texas law, was intended to attract manufacturing and industrial development, according to TexasAhead.org, a website dedicated to providing Texas municipalities with economic resources.

Through the 4A sales tax, EDCs can purchase land, buildings or equipment related to certain industrial jobs; fund the repairs for targeted infrastructure; and pay for the maintenance and operating costs associated with projects, according to Texas Ahead. And that’s just a few ways EDCs can allocate their funds.

But with this petition possibly on the next election ballot, voters could decide if the Port Arthur EDC could fund similar expenditures related to entertainment projects, such as a new facility for “The Breeze” radio station.

The radio station would not be the only entity that could benefit from this petition though. Other projects could be funded through what is called the “4B tax,” as well.

A 4B sales tax also is used to fund EDCs. Any project eligible under the 4A sales tax could be funded through the 4B tax in addition to other projects, like those that would improve residents’ quality of life, according to Texas Ahead. Some examples of possible 4B projects include sports facilities, public parks, recycling facilities, demolition of standing structures and infrastructure improvements related to these projects.

The petition created by “The Breeze” would only allocate EDC funds for entertainment-related projects, and only $400,000 could be spent on those projects per year from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2015, according to the proposed proposition.

Still, “The Breeze” could not receive funds from the EDC unless the EDC board of directors voted to approve its request, said Floyd Batiste, CEO of the EDC. And that could not happen until after the proposition was passed by Port Arthur voters.

It’s a gray area, Batiste said of the proposition. The law is vague, requiring 4B projects to improve people’s “quality of life” — something subjective and highly immeasurable. The board of directors would conduct a “fact-finding investigation” to see if “The Breeze” would do just that before it could fund the radio station’s requested project.

“It’s a community effort, and those who want it should help support it,” said Stephen Mosely, executive director of “The Breeze,” of the radio station, which reaches folks worldwide online despite its low power frequency that broadcasts a 3.5-mile radius from downtown Port Arthur.

The station trains children and teenagers who are interested in the field of broadcast while also showcasing local talent, Mosely said. It has served as a platform for the public to express its views, and with the help of the EDC, it could once again become a stable, self-sufficient station, he said.

If not, the last broadcast of “The Breeze” would be Dec. 31.

Mosely went around the city himself to get people to sign the petition and ended up with more than 3,000 signatures, he said. But not all of those people were registered to vote in Port Arthur.

Right now, “The Breeze” (KSAP 96.9 LPFM) operates out of a slender shelter that spans about 900 square feet on 5th Street. It is across the road from the Moody Harris Funeral Home.

Trouble started for “The Breeze” in 2008 when the city evicted the radio station from City Hall. After that, the station went off the air for more than 10 months before it found another location.

email: bcrum@panews.com

twitter: @broocrum

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