PA City Council OK’s EDC propositions

Published 6:56 pm Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Its up to voters now to decide whether Port Arthur will have an infusion of money from the city’s Economic Development Corporation to help fund streets upgrades and get homeowners into the city’s downtown area.

By a unanimous vote Tuesday, City Council voted to place two propositions on the May election ballot relating to EDC funding that is outside of allowable 4A tax dollar spending.

The first proposition, if approved by voters, would allow the EDC to funnel one-eighth of the half cent it gets from sales tax revenue to the city for streets maintenance for a period of four years, for a total contribution of $4.5 to $5 million.

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At the end of the four-year period, the money will continue to flow into the city coffers unless another proposition is placed on the ballot asking that the funding be returned to the EDC.

The EDC has indicated they would like the funding to be returned at the end of the streets program.

A second proposition would allow the EDC to spend $300,000 to $400,000 a year on an affordable housing project designed to put people with lower paying jobs in homes they otherwise might not be able to afford.

The EDC will use the funding to pay down the amount between what a bank is willing to lend the potential homeowner and what the housing costs.

Each home would cost about $130,000 to build.

Those making application for the new homes would need to meet credit requirements and fall within income limits established by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency.

District 3 City Councilman Morris Albright expressed concern that the EDC could be in the position of funding upwards to $60,000 to get a family in one of the homes.

EDC board member Richard Wycoff said he did not anticipate the EDC having to provide that much money, and thought the board would not want to kick in more than $30,000 to $35,000.

“Once this is passed by the voters, we will have to look at those parameters, but I do not see us doing $60,000,” Wycoff said

District 2 Councilmember Tiffany L. Hamilton questioned whether people with the HUD established income limits would be able to afford a $130,000 to $140,000 home.

“If the median income is $46,000 to $50,000 for a family of four, I don’t see how that could be affordable,” Hamilton said.

Council voted on the two propositions together, though District 5 Councilman Osman Swati suggested they Council vote on them separately.

Swaiti’s motion for amendment was voted down.


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