ST. GEORGE – The Washington County Commission voted Tuesday in favor of a tax incentive plan intended to spur development in downtown St. George and in the Millcreek Industrial Park.
Commissioners agreed unanimously to forego property taxes on the increased value of improvements in the two areas for 15 years.
Under the arrangement, the taxes received by the county will remain at their current level in spite of property values going up due to increased value of the improvements.
“We’re really excited about this project, which we’ve been working on for a number of years,” St. George City Manager Gary Esplin told the county commissioners.
The arrangement is called tax increment financing and is commonly used by municipalities to promote economic development in certain areas.
It’s too expensive for developers to build projects in the downtown area without some assistance, Esplin said, because the cost of property is so high.
In addition, parking structures, which can be very expensive, must be built because there isn’t enough room in the downtown area for regular parking lots.
“So there’s no way a project can do it and get the density it needs without some help,” Esplin said.
Currently, a hotel, high-density apartments, a restaurant and a commercial area are planned and will include public space, Esplin said.
Two existing businesses in the Millcreek area will be able to expand under the same method.
“Over in Millcreek, we have a great opportunity to entice new business there as well as, what we’re really excited about, is helping existing businesses – RAM Company and Quality Park Products – both want to expand their businesses there and employ some new additional employees,” Esplin said.
RAM Company plans to provide 100 new jobs, and Quality Park products will add 25-50 new jobs, Esplin said. Both companies have been courted by other areas for relocation, and both pay much higher than average.
The RAM Company has been in business for 41 years, St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.
“(Both companies) have invested in our community and sometimes we forget them,” Commissioner Victor Iverson said. “It’s good to take care of the folks that have been here taking care of us.”
The Washington County School Board approved the same proposal at a June board meeting, and the Washington County Water Conservancy District has also given its OK, Esplin said.
By approving the proposal, both public entities have agreed to give taxes on the increased value of the projects to the Neighborhood Redevelopment Agency of St. George. The agreements last for 15 years and the funds are used to help develop the specific properties in the proposal.
The agreements are a continuation of partnerships the school board, water district and St. George City have had in the past, St. George City Manager Gary Esplin told the school board at its June meeting.
St. George News reporter Mori Kessler contributed to this report.
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