New Carrollton proposes economic development fund to attract new businesses -- Gazette.Net


New Carrollton officials hope a proposal to set up a $1 million economic development fund will entice current businesses along Annapolis Road to join the city as well as attract new businesses to the area.

Officials said the New Carrollton Area Revitalization District, introduced at Monday’s City Council meeting, will shore up the city’s business tax base and reduce the tax burden on residents.

In the city’s proposed fiscal 2014 budget, more than half of the city’s revenues — $4.6 million — is anticipated to come from residential property taxes. The total proposed city budget is $8.7 million.

Assistant city administrator Miranda Braatz said that following the city’s decision to annex a portion of Annapolis Road last December, setting up incentives for businesses along the road to join the city is the logical next step.

“We have a huge opportunity here,” Braatz said, referring to the city’s proximity to Metro, MARC and Amtrak stations. “New Carrollton is one of the most strategic areas for development.”

Acting city administrator Graham Waters said the city wants to set up a $1 million fund, using money from the city’s $4 million cash reserves, to provide a series of financial incentives for potential businesses, from relocation expenses and temporary tax breaks, to matching grants for new or current businesses to improve their facades. Waters said officials have not yet determined how much in tax revenue they could stand to gain from the proposal.

Mayor Andrew Hanko said it is important that the city signal a willingness to work with the private sector to bring jobs to the city.

“We want to show that we’re making a commitment to the commercial sector, that New Carrollton welcomes new business with open arms,” he said.

Braatz said the city is already in negotiations with some commercial property owners about joining the city.

Socrates Yakoumatos, owner of the Pancake House Family Restaurant on Annapolis Road, said that while he hasn’t made a final decision on entering the city, he “feels positive” about it.

“I’m already at full capacity, so the monetary part of this is irrelevant to me,” Yakoumatos said. “If it spruces up the community I’m all for it ... I think they have to be selective though and not settle for vice businesses like liquor stores, pawn shops or strip bars.”

City Councilwoman Liza Fenton said she “loves” the proposal, which is slated to be formally introduced to the council in May.

“It makes me want to stand up and cheer,” Fenton said. “There are some nuances we’ll need to explore, but I’m ready to put our money where our mouths are.”

Councilman James Wildoner said he wants to make sure the city can leverage its fund along with similar county, state and federal programs, but said the council should have been more involved in the preliminary discussions on the proposal.

“This is a long-term project, and we should have a chance to hash it out so we can give [the business community] real exact facts,” he said.