The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
After years of planning and months of discussions and presentations, the City of Port Arthur has decided to implement a tool to bring business and vibrancy back to downtown: a tax increment reinvestment zone.
The Port Arthur City Council passed an ordinance at its Friday morning meeting designating a portion of downtown as a TIRZ.
The zone is approximately 372 acres and encompasses the land bordered by Houston Avenue on the west, Rev. Dr. Ransom Howard/7th Street on the north, Lake Charles Avenue on the east and the ship channel on the south.
The way the zone works is by freezing the current 2012 tax rates within the zone, and any increase in property value throughout the zone would result in higher property taxes. The property taxes collected as a result of the increase in value would be funneled into the tax increment reinvestment fund. The zone would not exceed a 25-year obligation, according to the city ordinance.
David Belvin, an attorney with the Carl Parker Law Firm, told the council that five of the taxing entities within the zone agreed to be a part of the tax zone. The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation hired the Carl Parker Law Firm to prepare a preliminary plan for the TIRZ.
The Port Arthur Independent School District had not joined the zone but had not declined to either, Belvin said.
“I’m not going to downplay the importance of the school district,” Belvin said. “Out of all the taxes that are being collected in the city, they get half of them.”
Without the participation of PAISD, the value of the tax zone would decrease by half, Belvin said. The value of the zone with the school district would be around $10 million, he said.
The Port Arthur Economic Development Corporation, Jefferson County, the Sabine-Neches Navigation District, Drainage District 7 and the Port of Port Arthur have joined the zone.
The city ordinance also creates a board of directors for the zone. Each taxing entity may appoint representatives to the board.
“I’m excited about it,” said Position 7 Councilman Derrick Freeman. He said he thought the zone would attract development and opportunity to the area and was eager to get the whole process started at the onset of 2013.
“I’m interested in, after this, moving forward to see what we can do to develop the rest of the city,” Belvin said.