Request denied

Gene's Wrecker Service owner Mark Cochrum plan to build a new $2 million facility on U.S. 59 replacing his current West Loop site. Because it falls in a Tax Reinvestment Zone, Cochrum cannot request property tax abatement and asked for his sales tax to be forgiven for seven years. Fearing other businesses would follow suit, council rejected the request Monday night.

El Campo City Council won’t be returning any sales tax dollars to a business relocating from the West Loop to the U.S. 59 corridor.

The unanimous vote came during Monday night’s session rejecting Gene’s Wrecker Tire and Truck Repair request for a seven-year, sales tax abatement up to $50,000. The company is building a $2 million structure, expanding its repair services and adding employees.

“We were just hoping for some help. We’ll make it work,” store owner Mark Cochrum told Council.

The company didn’t ask for a break on property taxes because its new location lies in a Tax Reinvestment Zone which prohibits abatements. That particular zone draws property tax dollars on new development for frontage roads on U.S. 59.

Council had tabled the request at its Feb. 10 session, turning the issue over to a newly-created economic development committee made up of council members John Hancock, Gloria Harris and David Hodges along with City Manager Courtney Sladek and City Development Corporation Executive Director Carolyn Gibson.

“Due to recent improvements funded by the city, including utilities extension and feeder road improvements, as well as the size of the project, the committee does not recommend a Chapter 380 reimbursement for Gene’s Wrecker,” Sladek told council during the session.

The city pledged $8 million for the feeder road work in addition to $557,000 for utilities in the area.

During the first discussion on the issue, Hodges likened granting an abatement on sales tax dollars to “opening a can of worms” while Harris expressed concerns over additional requests had council granted this one.

“We wish you nothing but the best,” Mayor Randy Collins told Cochrum. “Thank you for expanding your business.”

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