Dear Editor:

I am extremely disappointed, and hurt, in the decision of the city council for the action to dissolve the Big Lake Economic Development and to recapture the ½ cent sales tax for the city’s general revenue account.

I believe the council is not looking into the future of Big Lake but only a means to satisfy our citizens for long neglected streets and infrastructure. 

There is no denying our streets are in need of repair; and, had been given the opportunity, the BLEDC could have helped. 

The State of Texas mandates how an economic development may use the ½ cent sales tax dollars. 

The BLEDC can assist with streets in the business corridor or industrial park as we have done in the past (2013: Josh Mitchell Park $30,000.00; 2013: $350,000.00 Industrial Park Infrastructure; 2016: $211,269.00 Industrial Park Paving). 

An example could have been one block of Plaza, one block of 3rd Street and one block of Maryland that surrounds the Lowe’s Grocery Store.  Also 3rd Street from Main to Plaza could have been addressed because of Glasscock Chevrolet; that portion of 3rd street connects to a business and becomes an allowable expenditure. 

Thusly, freeing up other city funds to be used in streets where the BLEDC cannot help. The Economic Development offered $500,000.00 to the City of Big Lake at a recent council meeting and it was rejected. The council never gave the BLECD an opportunity for discussion.

I would like to remind our community councils, mayors and elected officials come and go.

The current council, nor mayor, cannot obligate future commitments of councils to continue any street paving or infrastructure project they set. 

THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES! 

Put a pencil and do the math.  By using the city’s own figures with a proposed $19,948,000.00 budget for street and infrastructure repair it is NOT POSSIBLE to complete what they are proposing during their elected terms. 

It was stated the Economic Development collects approximately $880,000.00 annually. 

Using 100 percent EDC funds, if dissolved, it will take well over 20 YEARS to complete what the current council is proposing. 

When the council first began discussion it was stated the tax would be for a Street Maintenance Tax and then council changed the resolution for the funds to go into the General Revenue Fund. 

Why?

A Street Maintenance Tax has to be re-voted every four years and council realized they may not complete the task they were proposing in a four year period? 

Consequently, voters might not vote a second time for the Street Maintenance Tax?

However, funds from the General Revenue may be spent for salaries, regular operations, equipment, etc.

What about upkeep and going forward of streets & infrastructure? 

Where do the funds come for that? 

In the meantime, the community has lost the benefit of an aggressive and active BLEDC to bring in new business and help existing business to expand which in turn benefits the city’s funds by increasing their sales tax base.

The Big Lake Economic Development is currently in negotiations with a Family Dollar, an Oral Surgeon/Dentist and a builder for the construction of an 80 unit (2-3 bedroom) apartment complex.

I must add, however, it is NEGOTIATIONS, and it may or may not come to pass, but I can confidently say without an EDC Grant the Family Dollar and apartment complex will not happen.

The economic development sales tax was created in 1989 to give smaller Texas communities the financial resources to create top-flight economic development programs. 

Today, the tax is the undisputed workhorse of local economic development efforts, serving as the backbone of economic development programs in more than 600 communities and 700 economic development corporations (EDC’s) across the state.

Your local Economic Development has received two recent honors by the Texas Economic Development Council. 

The 2017 Merit Recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Community Economic Development; and, Certificate of Achievement for Economic Excellence for Recognizing a commitment to Professional Economic Development by City Administration, Elected and Appointed Officials, and exemplary professional standards demonstrated by the Economic Development Staff.

The Big Lake Economic Development has been in place since May 1999, voted in by the citizens of Big Lake. 

Since 2005 the BLEDC has assisted 82 businesses and over $3,000,000.00 into business grants, advertising and promotion grants and the new beautification program.

In addition a minimum of 76 NEW JOBS (by contract alone) were created by these businesses. 

It is important our community understand the Big Lake Economic Development Board of Directors only qualifies, recommends, sets up and administers the grants. 

The city council ultimately approves all grants and beautification projects or they do not move forward. 

The Economic Development follows the Open Meetings Act and does not work secretively giving grants or business assistance, but is a public forum and has to be approved by the city council.

The Big Lake Economic Development does have, and will always have, an open door policy to anyone wishing information regarding our operations as well as the City. 

The vote is not just about streets but is about transparency and knowing how your BLEDC and city work for the quality of life for the citizens of Big Lake. 

Do your homework so that you may make an informed vote. 

The Big Lake Economic Development is proud to serve the community of Big Lake and we have complete confidence the citizens of our community will allow us to do so after the November 6 elections.

ALWAYS INVESTING IN YOUR COMMUNITY!

Gloria Baggett
Executive Director
Big Lake Economic Development Corporation

Letters to the Editor express the opinions of their author. They do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the staff, management or ownership of the Big Lake Wildcat.