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Council votes in favor of Port Arthur Health Department building sale

In a 6-1 roll call vote, the Port Arthur City Council authorized the sale of the Port Arthur Health Department building to a Delaware limited liability corporation during a regular meeting Tuesday (Sept. 8).

The vote gives the city attorney authority to negotiate a contract with Aurora Capital Holdings LLC for the purchase of the building at 449 Austin Avenue, along with adjacent parking tracts. The building is appraised at $1,728,500.

Aurora proposed the redevelopment of a portion of downtown to the board of the Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ.

The sale is contingent upon authorization of the finalized development agreement between Aurora and the city and authorization of a special property lien payment; a finalized lease agreement pertaining to the Austin Avenue property; and a finalized purchase agreement for the Ninth Avenue property.

If it is sold, Aurora has planned to facilitate the PAHD’s relocation to 5860 Ninth Avenue.

The vote was taken after Councilmen Harold Doucet and Cal Jones declined to make motions on moving discussion on the sale to a closed session following a long debate as to whether additional information City Attorney Val Tizeno wanted to present to council members could be brought to open session.

The debate led to a disagreement between Mayor Thurman Bartie and Doucet as to how to address the problem.

The attorney repeatedly told the council, “We can do it in open or closed session,” and reminded the board her practice has been to go over a contract in executive session.

Bartie cast the lone dissenting vote on the proposed ordinance.

Public hearing

The city Tuesday also held a public hearing on proposed tax rates for fiscal year 2020-21, but received no public comment.

The proposed tax rate of $0.792 per $100 is the same as the current rate with a no-new revenue tax rate of $0.781411 per $100 and voter approval rate of $0.814427 per $100. The no-new revenue tax rate, formerly known as the effective tax rate, is the rate for the 2020 tax year that will raise the same amount of property tax revenue for the city from the same properties in the 2019 and 2020 tax years. The voter approval tax rate, formerly known as the rollback rate, is the highest tax rate the city could adopt without holding an election.

Because the proposed rate is greater than the no-new revenue tax rate, the city is proposing to increase property taxes.

The tax rate and city budget are set for a council vote during a Sept. 15 meeting to begin at 11 a.m.

Also Tuesday, the council approved a fiscal year 2020-21 contract with DHHS Primary Health Care Program for up to $311,500, of which $62,300 is allocated toward the contract beginning Sept. 1 of this year and ending Aug. 31, 2021.

 

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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