The City Council voted unanimously to adopt the High Technology Incentive Pilot Program during the regular City Council meeting Tuesday, Nov. 5, after a 20-minute staff report.
The first of four incentives in the program offers businesses a 10-day turnaround of city paperwork, 24-hour inspection service and a possible rebate of as much as $5,000.
Use taxes are assessed by San Joaquin County when businesses order equipment from outside California and bring it into the county. The city could give back up to half of the 15 percent of that tax it receives from the county.
The city will also return a portion of the building and planning fees a business pays, up to $20,000.
The pilot program includes a “high-wage incentive,” which is available to businesses that create a minimum of 10 jobs, 25 percent of which must be permanent full-time jobs, with health benefits, making more than $52,000 a year. The business would get $1,000 a year for five years for each of those so-called head-of-household jobs.
Councilman Robert Rickman expressed confidence that the measures would attract high-paying jobs to Tracy.
“This is very creative and I think it will work,” Rickman said. “I believe you need to have lower fees and taxes and the incentives that are in here to bring head-of-household jobs that we need so desperately here in Tracy.”
Mayor Pro Tem Michael Maciel asked city economic development management analyst Amie Mendes how the city decided what qualifies as a high-wage job.
Mendes said the initial calculation was based upon median home prices in Tracy, but the economic development staff looked at factors outside of base pay.
“This is a good example of us designing our own way into prosperity,” Mayor Brent Ives said. “Tracy more and more is becoming a self-help city. With the state taking away things like redevelopment and enterprise zones and giving us any kind of incentives from the state level, the cities are having to do it themselves now.”
The pilot program is funded by $238,483 left over from the now-defunct $300,000 business incubator budget. Mendes said all the rebates, except for the use tax rebate, would come from that seed money.
Councilman Charles Manne moved to adopt the program, and his motion was seconded by Maciel. All five members of the council approved the measure.
The High Technology Incentive Pilot Program is planned to operate until 2016, when the city staff will evaluate whether it successfully resulted in higher-paying jobs.
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