Talk of tax rebates sparked by potential businesses

 

HARRINGTON, Del. — Several business owners seeking to establish new operations in Harrington have recently approached City Manager Terry Tieman regarding tax abatement programs, she said during the council workshop held on Monday, Jan. 4.

Although the city of Harrington currently offers incentives within the downtown revitalization district, new businesses in other locations have no such offering, she continued.

“We definitely need to get businesses here,” Mayor Anthony Moyer said. “Businesses attract people.”

Mayor Moyer suggested a tax rebate program for business owners hiring employees who live within city limits, adding, “If they live here, they’re paying taxes here.”

He also suggested a new home buyer incentive program to run in conjunction with the tax rebate program for businesses.

“They would have to live there for a certain amount of years. We need to get the population to grow. The reality is, if we don’t grow, we’re not going to start getting the stores that people want in here,” he said.

Research will be needed for such a proposal, according to Ms. Tieman, who suggested other local municipalities have similar programs to entice growth within city limits.

Councilmembers also suggested discounting fees assessed such as those related to sewer and water connections.

“We just have to look at the fees we’re charging these guys,” Councilmember Eric Marquis said. “I think this is a good start. We just need to expand it a little bit without hurting our revenue.”

Councilmember Charles Porter recalled a similar attempt at such discounts geared towards seniors, but the program affected the budget.

Noel Primos, sitting in for City Solicitor William Pepper, said he couldn’t think of any legal problems relating to the proposed abatements.

“I don’t know of any illegality of the idea itself. You just have to be aware of the administrative side of that,” he said.

At the request of Vice Mayor Duane E. Bivans, the council also discussed the current usage of the city’s electronic sign located in front of the Harrington Police Department.

“We use the electronic message board for public notification, meetings and things happening in and around our town,” he said.

A couple of times, however, events previously advertised on the sign were canceled due to the weather and the change was not reflected on the sign, he added.

The recent Christmas tree lighting and caroling even was one such time.

“It needs to cycle so that people can figure out what’s going on throughout the month. But I think it’s equally important to give it [the event of the day] top billing. What’s most important is that people find out that there’s a downtown and it’s alive and well,” he said.

He suggested the sign cease scrolling on event days so messages about  only that event will be seen by people passing by the sign.

Changes are sometimes not reflected on the sign because the operator must walk to the sign with a laptop to make changes. Not an easy task in unpleasant weather, the councilmembers agreed.

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