Drafted application would allow self-employers to tap into tax funds

EDCCC board to return next month with proposed changes

By Joel Phelps
The Arkadelphian

The Economic Development Corp. of Clark County discussed several issues during its monthly meeting Tuesday, with topics ranging from the process businesses could apply for tax incentives to prospective companies interested in operating in Clark County.

Old tax/New tax
In discussing financials, it was learned that the EDCCC raked in a record tax collection of $256,000 during December. Arkadelphia Alliance CEO J.L. Griffin noted that, out of the $318,000 recorded as new tax, the EDCCC owes the Alliance $151,000 for three months of its contract service, a payment that until recently had been on hold until the quorum court OK’d an measure releasing tax funds collected from the new 1/2-cent sales tax.

J.L. Griffin, CEO of the Arkadelphia Alliance, is pictured at left. Seated next to him is EDCCC chair Kevin Jester.

In a separate account sits some $8 million that had been collected under the previous tax. That fund will not grow because the 1/2-cent tax collected is now deposited into the new tax account. Of that $8 million, Griffin said there is $3.5 million earmarked for contingencies like Hostess ($2 million), matching a grant for the intermodal authority for a transload facility ($1.3 million), and grants to the county ($125,000) and the City of Caddo Valley ($125,000). If those contingencies come to fruition, that would leave $4.5 million in the old tax account.

Incentive application for companies
Now that the quorum court has approved an ordinance establishing guidelines on how the new tax money can be spent, the next step is finalizing the application process for companies hoping to receive funds from the tax.

EDCCC members were presented a copy of the drafted application, but chairman Kevin Jester noted he wasn’t seeking action on it until members had at least a month to review the draft and return at the next meeting with critiques or revisions.

“The biggest change” made to the draft, Jester pointed out, was the addition of a category allowing a company to be eligible by producing one job with a capital investment as low as $5,000.

Board member Bill Conine asked who developed the application and whether it had undergone any legal review. Jester said county attorney Todd Turner had reviewed it, and named off people involved in authoring the draft: himself, Eric Hughes, Wesley Kluck, Celya Taylor and Lewis Shepherd.

“It’s one of those things where it can be tough to sit down with a 15-member group and iron out every little thing,” Jester said in the decision to form a committee.