PA Chamber against downtown housing plan; for streets spending

Published 4:23 pm Friday, February 26, 2016


Port Arthur’s Chamber of Commerce passed two resolutions Thursday dealing with proposed uses of the city’s economic development funding that will be decided by voters in May.

One of the propositions to be included on the May 7 ballot gained the Chamber’s support, while the other did not.

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By unanimous vote, the Chamber’s board was against the EDC spending 300,000 to $400,000 a year on an affordable housing project designed to help put people with lower paying jobs in homes they otherwise might not could afford.

In a split vote, the Chamber board opted to support the EDC spending one-eighth of the half cent it gets from sales tax revenue for city streets maintenance for a period of four years, for a total contribution of $4.5 to $5 million.

Both funding proposals were approved by City Council earlier this month to be on the May election ballot in the form of separate propositions.

In the case of the housing, the EDC would use the funding to pay down the amount between what a bank is willing to loan the potential homeowner and what the housing cost.

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.

Chamber President Bill McCoy said the Chamber board felt the housing expenditure was too far afield what the EDC was originally created to accomplish.

“Some of the Chamber board members were there when then the EDC was created. Chamber board members felt that this type of expenditure would lead to the EDC becoming a piggyback for pet projects and deplete the funds over the years, McCoy said.

The EDC’s purpose is for economic development, McCoy said.

The board felt building single family affordable housing did little for economic development.

The Chamber encourages all voters to vote no on this issue on May 7, 2016, the Chamber’s resolution stated.

On the streets issue, McCoy said the board felt paving city streets would lead to economic development because adequate access to downtown Port Arthur is necessary to attract new, free enterprise driven businesses to downtown Port Arthur.

The Chamber urged voters to approve the streets proposition.


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