Concerns over the expansion of the Hazlehurst Industrial Park and city’s commitment to its portion of a $500,000 grant for the expansion were weighing on alderman Rick Akin’s mind during recent budget discussions by the Board of Aldermen. And, he is right.
Mayor Henry Banks had stated that he will not sign a budget that is not balanced earlier in the meeting, which is a good thing for the town. Noting that although the city has experienced an upswing in sales taxes over the past year, increases in expenses have eaten away the gains. So, the city has ‘broke even’ for the most part in FY 2009. (I’m wondering just how many local businesses would be happy to have broken even by the end of their fiscal year, but that’s another story for another day.)
Like many of the businesses in the area, the city is ‘making do’ until improvements in the national, state and local economies are felt. At the moment the city is under an unofficial hiring freeze, and is taking other measures to keep costs down. The great news is that property and business owners can expect no tax increase to balance the FY 2010 budget.
Back to alderman Akin’s concerns: the city owes a 10% match for a $500,000 grant to improve the industrial park– $20,000 in-kind and $30,000 cash. The expansion is expected to produce between 30 and 40 new jobs, according to Mayor Banks. If you figure the jobs pay at least $10 an hour, the impact on the local economy will be nearly $5,000,000 within a year’s time.
Five million dollars is no chump change around here and is a good economic stimulus for everyone in the entire area.
I agree with Dr. Akin that the city should see to it that the remaining $30,000 should be invested. At a cost of only $1,000 or less per job created, the return will be well worth the risk.
Joe Buck Coates