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EIC subcommittee to recommend future facade improvement grant regulations
by Gary Kent
Jan 25, 2011 | 857 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Beeville Economic Improvement Corporation board members voted recently to have a subcommittee review the requirements a business must meet before qualifying for facade grants from the city’s 4B sales funds.

“We just need to change the definitions,” board member Jessy T. Garza told the board at the Thursday meeting.

The discussion centered around what would qualify as a facade. As an example, Garza pointed out that the local Masonic Hall wanted a facade grant to repaint its building in downtown.

At the time that the request was made, the board debated on whether the facade of the building would be just the front portion facing Washington Street or the side of the building as well.

Board members also were unsure whether or not a facade would include a parking lot, landscaping and the installation of sprinkler systems for the landscaping.

Garza, who came up with the idea of the facade grants, said he was interested in creating a form of financial assistance for businesses located outside the Beeville Main Street geographical area, which is made up primarily of businesses downtown.

Beeville’s downtown Tax Increment Finance District provides the funds for the Main Street facade program.

Garza said he studied similar programs in other cities before writing a program for the EIC.

Later, businesses in the downtown area started applying for facade funds from both Main Street and the EIC, giving them the ability to “double up” on grants.

“That was not my original intent,” Garza said.

“We do need some limits,” board member Bill Shroyer suggested.

Board member Brenda Treviño, one of the standing subcommittee members along with Leticia Muñoz and Orlando Vasquez, said she and the others would like to see some better-defined limits.

Board member Dave Moore said, for example, that he does not feel parking lot improvements should be considered part of facade improvements.

“There’s no sense in helping a business improve its facade and the parking lot looks bad,” Garza said.

“I would also go talk to some of these people and ask if it really impacts their business,” Garza commented.

Earlier in the meeting, Garza asked two business owners, King Fuller of Fuller Tractor Co. and Rudy Garcia of Affordable Insurance, if the improvements they made to their businesses had resulted in a positive impact. Both said the improvements had brought more people into their businesses and they had both received numerous compliments on the work.

“We could better define some terms, like what is a facade,” Garza suggested.

Moore pointed out that one of the EIC board’s newest request, from the Dog and Bee Pub at the intersection of North Washington and West Bowie streets, would be one of those projects where the facade could actually include not only the front of the business but the side as well.

He said the building has entrances on both streets.

Garza then asked the board to consider whether the EIC wanted to offer facade improvement assistance to businesses immediately outside the city limits.

He added that state law controlling how 4B sales tax funds are spent would require the permission of the Commissioners Court before any money could be granted to a business outside the city.

Subcommittee members are expected to have some recommendations at a future meeting.

In other business, the board approved:

— A request from City Manager Tom Ginter to allow up to five members of the city staff to participate in a “webinar” over the Internet being offered by the Texas Economic Development Council.

The seminar will cost the city $79.

— A motion to follow the City Council’s lead and delete the board member comments from future agenda to avoid any conflicts with the Texas Open Meetings Law.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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