Editorial: Are you paying attention?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Another proposed economic development is on the way in the corporate limits of Phenix City – a retail center housing one or more retail stores set to establish on a site called Phenix Corners on U.S. Highway 280. The Phenix City Council held a public hearing Tuesday about the development.

A May 24 public notice in our newspaper cites the developer is Second Street of Phenix City LLC, whose members are Brent Federick and Myles Harris. Second Street of Phenix City LLC is the entity that recently re-developed a U.S. 280 property where Planet Fitness now stands. According to the public notice, the developer will pay for the development and construction of the retail center. The city will provide “certain funding, rebates, incentives and other assistance […]” The city is again using Amendment 772 of the Constitution of Alabama (1901) to do so, encouraging the proposed development.

More specifically, the city’s assistance will include paying to the developer 50 percent of the city tax revenue “derived solely from the operation of the Retail Center on the Project Site until the City has paid the City Tax Rebate.” That rebate will not exceed $2.4 million, or “the actual out-of-pocket costs” paid by the developer. The city’s obligations to the developer end after the rebate is paid off. The Retail Center is expected to produce annual net taxable sales of about $12 million.

Do you wish you had known all this so you could have attended June 5’s public hearing ? That’s why you trust us, your local newspaper, to keep you informed. We strive to meet your expectations. Along with keeping our readers informed, we also like to give them tips on where to find some data. If you’re not already aware, there’s a wealth of information you may be missing every week in the newspaper – in the fine print. You can find these golden nuggets (like public notices) in our Legal Ads section, which on a typical week, are usually found around pages 40-47.

It’s your city, and you elected the council members to represent you. Like or dislike what they’re doing with all these economic development projects? What are your suggestions on how they should attract more revenue here?

City Manager Wallace Hunter has repetitively said growing the city’s tax base is essential to being able to keep up with the city’s costly maintenance and other needs. He said so again at the council work session June 4 when talking about major flooding problems around the city and the need for more revenue to fix them. He said if the city can’t grow itself or its tax base, “It can change this whole city — to a detriment.” He was referencing an ongoing police jurisdiction/annexation lawsuit Russell County has against the city right now, and the potential impact its ruling could have, depending on what the court decides.

What do you, readers, think about all these things that may affect your quality of life here? Are you paying attention?