County to consider reinvestment zone for Air Liquide Inc.


Matagorda County Commissioners will consider setting a public hearing for establishment of a reinvestment zone for tax abatement for Air Liquide Inc. Commissioners are expected to consider setting a public hearing for Oct 29 during Monday’s meeting of the Matagorda County Commissioner’s Court that is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.

The setting of this hearing comes on the heels of the county approving a reinvestment zone for the formation of the reinvestment zone that allows E.On to begin negotiations with Matagorda County on a wind farm. 

The project was tabled a year ago and brought back to the table after the reinvestment zone was scaled down to the parcel of land that will be used during this phase of the proposed project.

Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the reinvestment zone for E.On with Precinct 4 Commissioner Charles “Bubba” Frick voting against the public hearing and the measure for the formation of the reinvestment zone.

Reinvestment zones are a very common practice for counties to lure businesses to relocate to their areas for boosts to the local economy.

According to the Texas Comptroller’s office, a tax abatement is a local agreement between a taxpayer and a taxing unit that exempts all or part of the increase in the value of the real property and/or tangible personal property from taxation for a period not to exceed 10 years. 

Tax abatements are an economic development tool available to cities, counties and special districts to attract new industries and to encourage the retention and development of existing businesses through property tax exemptions or reductions. School districts may not enter into abatement agreements.

Guidelines and criteria differ from county to county. Each taxing unit that wants to consider tax abatement proposals must adopt guidelines and criteria for the creation of a reinvestment zone and must hold a public hearing.

Each taxing unit that wants to consider tax abatements must also adopt a resolution indicating its intent to participate in tax abatement. The resolution must be adopted at an open meeting by a majority vote of the taxing unit's governing body.

Public hearings must be held in order to give the general public to voice their opinions over the decision. All public hearings must give seven days' written notice of the public hearing must be given to the presiding officer of each of the other taxing units that have taxing jurisdiction over real property within the zone. 

Notice of the hearing must also be published at least seven days before the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the city. At the public hearing on the reinvestment zone, the governing body must find that the improvements sought are feasible and would benefit the zone after the expiration of the agreement, and the zone meets one of the applicable criteria for reinvestment zones.

After the hearing has taken place and the guidelines and criteria have been adopted, the taxing unit may, by official action, designate a reinvestment zone. Designation of an area as an enterprise zone under Chapter 2303 of the Government Code constitutes designation of an area as a reinvestment zone without further hearing or other procedural requirements by the local taxing unit.

After the designation of the reinvestment zone, the governing body of a taxing unit may enter into a tax abatement agreement under this chapter if it finds that the terms of the agreement and the property subject to the agreement meet the applicable guidelines and criteria adopted by the governing body under this section.

Written notice of a taxing unit's intent to enter into a tax abatement agreement must be delivered to the presiding officer of each of the other taxing units in which the property is located at least seven days before the abatement is granted. 

 The other taxing units may enter into an abatement agreement or choose not to provide an abatement. There is no penalty for choosing not to provide an abatement.

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