Agendas and Minutes

City Council (View All)

Study Session

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008
Siskiyou Room, 51 Winburn Way

Council Chair David Chapman called the meeting to order at 6:06 p.m. in the absence of Mayor John Morrison.

Councilor Hardesty, Hartzell, Navickas, Jackson, and Silbiger were present.

Agenda item number 3 was moved to the beginning of the agenda due to time constraints for the presenters.

3. Does the Council want to schedule for action a request that Jackson County examine the possibility of including several areas zoned for employment uses within Ashland in the Jackson County Enterprise Zone? [1 Hour]
City Administrator Martha Bennett provided a brief overview of the three areas under consideration. Larry Holzgang, Business Development Manager for the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department (OECDD) and Ron Fox of Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc. (SOREDI) were present to answer questions.

Mr. Holzgang and Mr. Fox explained that the Jackson County Enterprise Zone was a business incentive to generate growth in existing businesses and encourage new businesses by providing a 3 or 5-year property tax abatement for specific locations. If an existing business in a specified Enterprise Zone purchased new equipment or expanded their building, it would be exempt from property taxes on the expansion or new equipment for three or five years depending on the incentive plan. In order to be eligible they would have to increase their employee base by 10% the first year and maintain that level for either the 3 or the 5 years. Failure to maintain employment and salary levels would result in the business paying back the incentive used.

Mr. Holzgang further explained that the benefits to Ashland would be attracting new businesses to the community. Concern was noted on giving up taxes while the City was budget constrained.

Ms. Bennett clarified that the property tax is $4.25 and for the School District is $5 per $1,000, and that the Youth Activities Levy would be lost. Ms. Bennett talked to the School District regarding this possibility and they were comfortable with Enterprise Zoning.

Mr. Holzgang provided an overview on how Electro Scientific Industries (ESI) established their company in the City of Klamath Falls using Enterprise Zone incentives.

Concern was expressed that subsidizing businesses would put pressure on homeowners. Mr. Holzgang responded that the focus was on the long-term gain and not the short-term loss. Ms. Bennett explained that the Enterprise Zone is a calculated risk but creates a level playing field for business opportunities in Ashland.

Mr. Fox agreed it was a wager on the kind of companies the City wants to attract and stated that the Jackson County Enterprise Zone was a long-term incremental investment.

It was explained that the Jackson County Enterprise Zone expires in ten years with an option at that time to extend another ten years.

Ms. Bennett explained that if Council were interested, the Jackson County Enterprise Zone would come back as a Council Communication to include certain parcels to Jackson County via a letter. The County would provide an analysis and once confirmed, would ultimately come back to Council as a resolution.

Council provided the following comments and concerns:

  • Not enough of an incentive to bring businesses to the city and questioned if the city could retain the businesses after the incentive ended,
  • Plan worked overall, but without the Economic Strategy completed the Enterprise Zone was premature
  • Could be considered if there was a specific business looking into the Enterprise zone but not comfortable losing property taxes for 3-5 years,
  • Not enough controls on what type of businesses might be coming in,
  • Enterprise Zone was a tool the City needed and the controls would be in the Planning Department's zoning code and regulations,
  • City needs jobs to increase the tax base and fund affordable housing,
  • Request for input from Planning and the public prior to making a decision,
  • Economic Strategy should be completed first and additional information on a business that was interested in the Enterprise Zone,
  • Suggestion that this be placed on the agenda for public input and additional information provided,
  • Concern regarding the 5-year incentive

Staff suggested that council choose one property to track through the process in order to determine how it performs.

1. Look Ahead Review
Items were reviewed on the Council Look Ahead.

2. Review of regular meeting agenda for September 16, 2008
City Administer Martha Bennett reviewed the upcoming Regular meeting agenda with council.

Meeting was adjourned at 7:52 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Dana Smith
Assistant to the City Recorder


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