Arlanxeo plans to invest $19 million on its Chemical Row plant to keep the current level of 289 full-time jobs. Tuesday, the Orange City Council passed a resolution supporting the company applying for a state enterprise project to receive tax incentives for the investment.
City Economic Development Director Jay Trahan said the plant has an annual payroll of $33.4 million that goes into the local economy.
Representatives of the plant said Arlanxeo has an average of 200 contract workers in addition to the full-time positions.
In other business, the council approved a request from the Texas Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on the Interstate 10 frontage roads near Womack Road. The speed limit will go from 55 miles per hour to 45 mph. The reduction is for planned interstate improvements construction set to begin in March.
The council also agreed to TxDOT’s plan for detouring traffic around the area of Womack Road during the project, which could last four months, depending on weather.
Bad news came with from a state audit of sales taxes from the former Temple Inland plant. The state says the city needs to repay $257,594 in sales taxes collected for a period of January 2009 through April of 2013.
City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre said the city’s sales tax consultant, MuniServe, has reviewed the audit and agrees. He criticized the state for not keeping the city informed about the audit and a negotiation for the taxes.
“We just wish we had a better style of communication,” he said.
If the city had known taxes had been overpaid to the city, the difference could have been absorbed by yearly budgets, he said.
Oubre said the city could make monthly payments or a one-time payment. The council agreed to make the one-time payment.
“We always caution the public on these quarterly sales tax reports,” he said. The state comptroller’s office makes mistakes in reimbursements to the cities and the reports are not always accurate, he said.
Orange County Economic Development Director Jessica Hill showed the council a rough cut of a professional video being made to promote the county for industrial and retail development. The video includes scenes of quality of life.
The council made agreements with the Stark Foundation for two public events. The foundation, which sponsors the annual community Trash-Off, will be holding it at the city’s Boat Ramp on Saturday February 24.
And on April 7, the city-sponsored Art in the Park festival will be held in the foundation’s Stark Park in downtown.
The council also made appointments to city boards. Michael Yeater was reappointed to the Convention and Visitors Advisory Board. Mary Ekene was appointed to the Citizens Advisory Committee and Mary McCoy was appointed to the Library Advisory Board to replace Barbara Kelly, who is moving from the city because of health reasons.
-Margaret Toal, KOGT-