Pinehurst looks towards the future

Published 6:56 pm Saturday, November 17, 2018

By Dawn Burleigh

The Orange Leader


City of Pinehurst City Council is taking a different look at the term abatements.

Since Commissioners Court updated the County’s Policy on Abatements, each entity is amending its Tax Abatement Policy Guidelines as well.

“It does not dictate how agreements are structured,” Orange County Executive Director Jessica Hill said. “Years of and percentages are negotiated through an agreement. The policy is more of a formal definition, how to define. It is to help0 streamline the process. The policy is the same policy the county has been operating under since 2013. By law, we have to update it every two years.”

City Administrator Robbie Hood added, “To enter into an abatement, we have to have a policy.”

Hill added the policy is for guidelines to allow the city to enter into an agreement.

“It is a formality we have to have in place to enter into an abatement,” Hood said. “Council still has to approve the package. The city does work well together and the council makes the final decision.”

Council member T.W. Permenter said he believes in promoting Orange County.

“I understand the judge voted against this,” Permenter said. “I think it is great anytime we can bring in something new because it helps everyone.”

Hood asked each council member to speak on how they see Pinehurst going forward.

“I want to see more economic growth,” Council member Sarah McClendon said. “I want to see younger people moving in. We need to draw businesses to draw their interest. It would be best for the whole city.”

Council member Dan Mohon said he has worked in and around economic development for 40 years.

“It is a sleeping giant,” Mohan said. “We need tax abatements. HEB has not said no. We have heard about Chick-fil-A for two to three years. With jobs, comes quality of life. When the younger generation stays, it adds to it. The WOS Bond just passed and it is a return on an investment. We are on the cusps of a boom in Orange County.”

Mohan added, “We need to support and be positive about it.”

Orange County Commissioner Barry Burton said in the past 12 years there has been $812million in property improvement in Orange County.

“The EDC spent $2million. That is a good return on investment,” Burton said. “Tax abatement is not giving away money.”

“I have to say ditto for what others have said,” Council member Cynthia Adams said. “It is a win/win. It trickles down for everybody. It is more jobs so people can buy cars, homes. We have the younger people come back to a hometown to be proud of.”

Robbie Hood said, “Abatements are not a bad word. It makes things happen.”

Hood also added abatements will create jobs which improve the quality of life.

“We have to be the shining star in the Golden Triangle,” Hood said.

Also discussed in the Tuesday evening meeting was a resolution requesting the removal of the requirement to select either buyouts or acquisitions of properties in the city as the General Land Office is requiring at this time.

“Buy out is prestorm values and acquisition is post-storm value,” Vidor Mayor Robert Viator said.  “Some houses which flooded in Vidor are abandoned. A buyout is not an option and we will have to use acquisition.”

Vidor City Council passed the resolution the previous week.

“We are asking the requirement to be removed,” Viator said.

Pinehurst council approved the resolution.