First, we learn that Texas City, College of the Mainland and Galveston County all agreed to rebate tax revenue to Land Tejas, the Lago Mar developer, for an additional 10 years beyond their original agreement ("County extends agreement to fund Lago Mar TIRZ," The Daily News, Nov. 8). In addition to what it will cost Texas City and COM, this change will cost county taxpayers a whopping $42.5 million.

Three weeks later, we learn that Land Tejas has been pursuing new financing ("Lago Mar developer turns to unconventional financing, more rooms planned for island," The Daily News, Dec. 1). Obviously from the timing, Land Tejas needed the additional financial backing of Texas City, COM and the county before it could get the financing it needs. Rather than holding Land Tejas's feet to the fire, the taxing entities decided to bail it out.

Could an ordinary property owner who isn’t financially sound enough for a new project expect this kind of relief? No. The average Joe must face market realities alone. And that is what the taxing authorities should have let happen here as well. If Land Tejas couldn't develop Lago Mar without another bailout from the region's other taxpayers, that’s not our problem. County residents could've used the $42.5 million for parks, roads, libraries and other public improvements.

Elizabeth Beeton

Galveston

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(9) comments

Jack Cross

Ms Beeton must not have read the story about this. This land has been sitting there with an Ag exemption just like a lot of undeveloped land. The City,COM and the county made this tax agreement a number of years ago but the the 2008 economic downturn delayed the development, This is just a renewal of the original agreement. It would not be fair to penalize the development for something they had no control over. In place of taxes for this period, the development will put in all the infrastructure, streets, water, sewer ect. Since the county has been taxing at the effective tax rate, which means it will have the same revenue this year as the previous year, I am puzzled where Ms Beeton got her $42 million loss from.

When these thousands of homes, hotels and shopping centers are built all of these taxing bodies will benefit. Texas City Government, College of the Mainland and the County are doing just fine, Ms Beeton should stick to the Galveston Port issues where she is on the board.

Gary Miller

I'm not qualified to judge this deal but I think it's like a farmer buying seed to plant for a crop worth more than the seed. Invest now to harvest later.

Elizabeth Beeton

Mr. Cross, Commissioner Holmes provided me with the $42.5 million number as the county's cost. At their public meeting, commissioners confirmed that every percent of county participation would cost the county $1,000,000, and the county's participation is 40%. This is not a renewal of the original agreement - if it were, an amendment would not have been necessary. The developer failed to perform, not the county.

Gary Miller

Mrs Beeton. Has the port ever invested in new infrastructure with the idea of attracting future profits????

Don Schlessinger

The county is using my tax money to finance a speculative investment with a private company. Ms. Beeton is right to bring this to my attention and I appreciate it. As far a I know the port uses it's own money when investing. BTW the port isn't a private company. Makes me wonder who owns the island land Land Tejas is planning to build on.

Jack Cross

The country isn't losing anything, they aren't getting any revenue now from the vacant land. The revenue from the buyers of the lots and the owners of the buildings constructed on them pay taxes on the same basis as everyone else.

There are no tax breaks.

To the contrary the city the county and the Galveston Independent School District each receive a big boost in tax revenue when the empty land is first laid out as lots and then built upon.

That is why government bodies like TIRZes. Other cities could learn from Texas City's economic model and planning years into the future. Galveston has 4 TIRZ, they have been controversy and some failures. You can lay that at the foot of the elected body who did the negotiations. Texas City is the county's largest revenue source and this is going to grow. Galveston blocked the LNG plant for Pelican Island, Right across the bay in Texas City, construction will soon start on a large liquid Ammonia plant. Don't be greedy, The county will earn about $20 million from the proposed $800 million plant over the abatement agreement’s 10-year term, officials said.

All of Texas Cities abatements have been highly successful several and when this development if completed, more business will follow it and more jobs and visitors to Galveston and more revenue to the County.

If Galveston was successful in getting the Corp of Engineers to release the East End Flats and a big developer like Tilman Fertitta offered to develop it, are you telling me that you would turn down a request for a similar abatement.

Don Schlessinger

So you're okay with Galveston County hanging the taxpayers out to dry for $42mil without a chance to vote for or against? What happens if 5 years from now that all falls through? What is the county going to say, never mind?

Jack Cross

Don, the county is not getting any revenue now from undeveloped land that has an ag exemption with cows on it. If it falls through nothing will change. The point is that it is not going to fall through, this areas is being developed right now< Unlike many other cities, Texas City planned for this 20 years ago with a 48 inch sewer line along the loop to that area. The City built a new solid waste plant during Chuck Doyle's term as Mayor that was oversized and can handle these thousands of new homes.

The City Council zoned and planned the area 15 years ago. You are going to see big time development here. As long as the county taxes at the effective tax rate which they have, I think for the past 5 years, you are not going to see any change on your county taxes, but this development will help keep the county taxes lower.

You should be praising Texas City for keeping your county taxes low. Texas City is not the largest City, but it is the largest county taxpayer. The last time I checked was when Pat Doyle was a commissioner and Texas City was paying 42 percent of the county taxes.

Galveston College is shafting seniors and the disabled by not giving them the over 65 exemption freeze. Just think how many thousand of tax dollars seniors would have saved if Galveston College would have granted this several years ago.

Although I live in Texas City, myself and Jose Boix campaigned successfully to get every taxing body on the mainland to grant this exemption.

Cheryl Johnson worked with us to get Galveston College to grant this exemption to the Galveston senior citizens and they did not. Ben Franklin said; "Clean your fingers before you touch my spots"

Gary Scoggin

Jack. You are right on here. We were getting nothing, now we will be getting something. Kudos to you and Jose on your hard work on this.

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