by A.C. Hall
The June meeting of the White Settlement Economic Development Corporation saw the board receive several business updates as well as an update on falling sales tax revenues in the city. EDC Director Kyle Reeves gave his monthly report, saying there’s been interest in the long vacant Graystone Apartments land that the EDC owns.
“We’ve had a couple of interested businesses,” Reeves said.
Reeves also said the recent trip to the Las Vegas retail convention has continued to help the city as they try to bring in new businesses.
“We have generated several phone calls and emails. It’s been very beneficial,” Reeves said. “It’s talks at this point, but talks do lead into businesses and construction and things of that nature.”
The strip center by West Elementary is said to have the exterior completed. Several businesses relocated out of that strip center last year after it was found to be unsafe. Reeves said the owner is now trying to lease space in the strip center.
For the third month in a row, the EDC heard disappointing news regarding the sales tax revenue in White Settlement.
“The sales taxes collected through May are still significantly down from last year,” Finance Director Phil Bray said.
The May sales tax revenue for the EDC was down twenty-six percent. A new projection has been done for the fiscal year and Bray said they expect the EDC to bring in $1.17 million in sales tax revenue this year. The original estimate was $1.3 million.
Bray continued to say that much of the loss comes from the drop in oil and gas prices and the effect that had on local businesses.
“We all enjoyed those lower gas prices when we had them, but it did take a toll on anything that was oil and gas related,” Bray said.
BIG GRANTS APPROVED
Several business incentive grants were approved by the EDC. The first was for Frontier Veterinary Hospital. Located at 312 N Jim Wright Freeway, this business has seen a new hotel pop up on one side and a new building pop up on the other. Reeves said the owner was looking for some assistance in sprucing up his building so that it better fits with the new look of the area. The total amount of the Frontier Veterinary Hospital BIG grant is $14,636. This grant was approved unanimously.
Also before the board was the application approval and payment of a BIG grant to the owner of property at 2020 South Cherry Lane in the amount of $32,627. A motion was made to approve this BIG application, but Mayor Ronald A. White stepped in to comment on the situation.
“I want the board to know this. Last Friday, I was presented a check to sign for this without any supporting documentation,” Mayor White said. “I questioned why the check would already be issued prior to even the board revealing the application or approval of the application.”
City Manager Jim Ryan spoke up to try to clear this issue up. He stated that this was the first BIG grant that Reeves has handled on his own and there were a few small missteps made. Ryan said checks have to be printed early but aren’t meant to be signed until they are approved.
“It was sent to you by mistake. We have taken care of that,” Ryan said.
Ryan went on to thank the Mayor for catching the mistake and not signing the check.
“It’s a good thing we caught it,” Mayor White said.
Reeves addressed the process, apologizing for some of the things he got wrong in preparing this BIG grant for board approval. EDC voted to approve the application, then moved on to the business of approving the payment of the grant.
Giving more information on the business, Reeves informed the EDC that this BIG grant is for the old Luby’s building. An aerospace related business will be moving in to the space and will work on the helmets for the new F-35 plane that’s being built at Lockheed.
A motion to approve the payment of this grant passed unanimously.