Alabama mayors asking citizens to vote yes for Amendment 11

Published: Oct. 6, 2016 at 11:04 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2016 at 12:36 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Several statewide amendments will be on the general election ballot in November.

When it comes to Amendment 11, local leaders are calling on you to vote yes.

"All we have to do is vote yes for Amendment 11 and it helps make Alabama better. It helps us compete and win against other states," said Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange.

Also known as the 21st Century Manufacturing Zone Act, the amendment would allow local governments to create a Tax Increment Financing zone or TIF zone. Once created, property tax and sales tax could be raised in that zone only, creating additional revenues.

"We're finding more and more that local governments have to front end a lot of the infrastructure or the purchase of land or the building of facilities as opposed to the state doing job credits and it's on a performance basis. So what we are looking for is a tool that we can service bonds that we have to issue to be able to do that infrastructure," explained Strange. "It's an opportunity to have another tool in our toolkit where we can be more competitive to surrounding states."

The revenue would also help pay for any incentives given to the company.

"People don't like incentives. Incentives are nature's way of saying 'we want you to come to a state but in this particular case, this incentive pays for itself.' It's not coming from the taxpayer, it's coming from the company through the appreciation of the property they've made the investment in," claimed Strange.

"This pays for its own incentives. It's a great system. It's a win-win, both for the localities and it's a win-win for the state because we can pull a project together that makes a whole lot of sense," added Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

A TIF zone can only be created for a site larger than 250 acres. There are at least 84 potential industrial sites across Alabama.

"This gives us a chance to do the big mega-projects," said Battle. "Over 250 acres, over $100 million worth of investment; the kind of project that brings in 6,000 jobs. This is a statewide bill that helps the whole state."

Battle believes if our state already had this capability, his city very easily could have been chosen as the home to major automobile plant, Volkswagen. The company instead is in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

"When we were talking to Volkswagen, we were talking to them [saying] we can do this but we will have to go get permission from the Governor or we'll have to have a vote of the legislature; all that puts question marks in their minds," said Battle. "It's another tool that gives us great flexibility and it puts a lot of control at the local level as opposed to us having to go to the legislature and get permission to do these things."

The bill for the amendment passed unanimously in the House and Senate.

The Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama's board unanimously endorsed Amendment 11.

According to Economist Dr. Keivan Deravi, there doesn't seem to be any negatives to voting for the amendment.

"We have been using this selectively, for a while, with some success. The only negative can be, if the tax increase becomes prohibitive (meaning
so large), then this bill becomes ineffective," wrote Deravi.

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