Bertram voters to decide MDD

By Catherine Hosman

BERTRAM — Seeking to grow the community and attract new business and jobs, the City of Bertram is considering the creation of a Municipal Development District that would be funded by a one-quarter percent increase in the sales tax.

At the Feb. 12 regular meeting of the Bertram City Council, Mayor Dickie Allen proposed the creation of a MDD. Similar to the Economic Development Corporation, which uses revenue generated by a ¼ percent sales tax to fund local business and city improvements, City Secretary Evan Milliorn said the MDD is for the improvement of infrastructure, which could attract new, larger commercial development to the area.

“An MDD is a little more flexible in how its money can be spent,” Milliorn said. “The monies would allow us to pave streets, benefitting commercial development already here, and entice new businesses by expanding the sewer and water lines.”

Milliorn said the City expects to generate between $35,000 and $40,000 in sales tax to fund the MDD, mirroring the amount of revenue brought in through the EDC, which had about $170,000 on hand as of Sept. 30, 2012.

“In recent years, the Bertram EDC has provided assistance to local business through their Facade Grant Program,” he said. “This program allowed for businesses to apply for a grant to improve their streetscape appearance.”

Milliorn said the EDC has also provided funding for several city park projects including the construction of awnings over the bleachers at the baseball fields and renovations to the city pool.

“Recently the EDC has initiated discussion of looking into the possibility of an industrial park for future industrial development,” he said.

Where the EDC funding often goes for beautification projects of established city business and amenities, like the baseball fields, Milliorn said the MDD funding would focus on the larger scope of bringing in larger commercial developments through the expansion of infrastructure that would help to create and retain jobs in the city.

For example, Milliorn said projects funded by an MDD may include land, buildings, equipment, facilities, expenditures, infrastructure improvements, as well as targeted infrastructure for manufacturing or industrial facilities.

“Things like research and development facilities, transportation facilities, sewage or solid waste disposal facilities, recycling facilities, air or water pollution facilities, facilities for furnishing water to the public, distribution centers, small warehouse facilities serving as distribution centers, primary job training facilities, regional or national corporate headquarter facilities,” he said.

The EDC is more specific as to how its funds can be used. The EDC is used to improve established city businesses and amenities, like the ball fields and facade grant, as well as to “promote and develop new and expanded business enterprises that create or retain primary jobs.”

Like the EDC, a board of directors would be appointed to oversee the MDD including a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. There is no compensation to those who sit on the board other than reimbursements for allowed expenses.

Milliorn said benefits to all residents include better roads and infrastructure due to the development and utilization of new, larger commercial enterprises.

“The MDD will not only help the infrastructure, it will help to create and maintain primary jobs by bringing in new businesses that would bring new jobs to the city, and residents wouldn’t have to commute,” he said.

For more information or to provide suggestions, residents are encouraged to attend the Feb. 26 meeting of the Bertram City Council, 166 West Vaughn Street, Bertram. The meeting begins at 6 p.m.

The MDD issue will appear on the May 11 election ballot for Bertram voters.