ST. GEORGE – Plans for tax incentives encouraging new and continuing development in downtown St. George and Millcreek Industrial Park were adopted Thursday. City officials believe the plan will help bring new residential, commercial and office space to the downtown area while also helping new and pre-existing companies in the industrial park to expand and create new jobs.
The City Council unanimously approved measures finalizing the plan during its regular council meeting Thursday.
In the downtown area, the plan creates a community development area – also known as a CDA –across 40-plus acres located between 200 North, Tabernacle Street, 300 West and 200 East.
Currently, the City of St. George, Washington County, Washington County School District and Washington County Water Conservancy District all draw property taxes from the area. According to a presentation given to the City Council in March 2016, the downtown area has an existing annual tax rate of $27 million.
Under the tax incentive plan, taxing agencies will freeze the amount of property taxes they collect in downtown and Millcreek at their current rate for the next 15 years. Tax increases above that base rate will be collected by a redevelopment agency – in this case, the city – and applied retroactively to developers or companies once they achieve certain benchmarks.
Examples of those benchmarks would be finishing a project or employing a certain amount of people as the company expands.
“It’s an incentive that hopefully works for the benefit of everyone,” St. George Mayor Jon Pike said.
“We’re hoping there will be probably three or four projects over the course of the 15 years that will combine retail, office and residential that will bring more people downtown,” Pike said, “To live downtown, to shop downtown, to work downtown: you know, the concept of mixed use.”
An example of the mixed-use project the mayor mentioned is similar to multi-level developments like the proposed Joule Plaza: a 235,000-square foot project spread over 4 acres acres located at 200 West and Tabernacle Street. The Joule Plaza was projected to include three four-story buildings that would host commercial space on the bottom floor and up to 129 high-end residential apartments on the upper floors.
The newly created CDA should also help the city’s continuing efforts to keep the downtown area alive and attractive, Pike said.
According to the 2016 presentation given by Jason Burningham of the financial consulting firm Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham, the CDA will help bring more people and money into the heart of the city.
Property taxes deferred to improvements within the downtown CDA have been estimated to be a possible $55 million, with the overall value of the area potentially reaching over $80 million in 15 years.
In the Millcreek Industrial Park, the tax incentives will benefit Ram Company and Quality Park Products, as well as any new or pre-existing businesses looking to expand, City Manager Gary Esplin said.
Ram Company has been in St. George for over 40 years and is looking to expand and create an additional 100 jobs. Quality Park Products is also expanding and looking to add between 25 and 50 employees.
Both companies have been approached to move and set up shop elsewhere, Esplin said.
Before the development areas could be created, city officials had to get the other taxing entities to agree to it.
“The other entities are excited about this,” Esplin said.
The City Council approved a bid for $80,190 for 75 body cameras and related equipment for the St. George Police Department. The police had been testing different models of body cameras for use last year yet were unable to find a model that suited the department’s needs until recently.
“We think it’s worth it to protect our officers and show what’s happening to our citizens,” Esplin said.
St. George Police Chief Marlon Stratton said the department is excited to get the body cameras out to the officers who are out in the community everyday.
Rolling out the new body cameras may take a couple of months, Stratton said.
Part of the implementation of the new cameras will include bringing on a full-time employee to manage the data and documentation they produce, Esplin said. This will include learning how to address privacy issues and requests from media for footage.
“It’s going to be a learning process for us,” Esplin said.
Ed. note: Address correction. 200 South was incorrectly listed as a boundary of the downtown community development area. This has been changed to 200 East.
St. George News Reporter Julie Applegate contributed to this report.
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