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Columbia County Observer

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Lake City

Hutton Development Scores: City Council Approves 10yr $440,000 Tax Abatement & $340k in Cash


Hutton's Kevin Jennings makes his pitch to the City Council.

LAKE CITY, FL – Last night the Lake City, City Council approved an open-ended Development Agreement with Hutton Gleason Place LC, LLC, a business registered with the state a little more than 3 weeks ago. The project will develop the old K-Mart shopping center on U.S. 90. See: Econ Development Bd Recommends $1,650,000 Retail Incentive for Another Shopping Mall.

The only question came from Councilwoman Melinda Moses, who asked for clarification on the tax rebate/abatement, which is estimated to return to Hutton $44,000 each year for the next 10 years. The City has also agreed to kick in $340,000 from the Impact Fee Trust Fund to reimburse Hutton for the improvements to the unsafe waterlines which will supply the proposed shopping center and presently provides water to the Lake City Mall.

Public-Private Partnership?


The Private-Public Partnership                         ++ Enlarge

Hutton describes the project as a Public-Private Partnership.The "Partnership" appears to be the public will provide $1,450,000 in Hutton's words, to cover the "Day-one shortfall of $1.45mil in order to reach required investment hurdle."

It has been established that the $1.45mil represents the profit for Hutton, which the public will guarantee through this agreement and one presented to the County 5.

The City is also donating up to $40,000 in site plan, City review, and permit fees.


Project Summary   ++

During the discussion, Mayor Witt said he thought the project was a good idea and he was looking forward to seeing the site developed.

Your reporter pointed out that retail salaries are generally minimum wage and low paying jobs without benefits and don't pay a living or livable wage. He asked the council to think about that before voting.

It is not clear what the City Council was thinking. They voted unanimously, without discussion, to give Hutton what it asked for without modification restrictions, or guarantees.

Epilogue

After the meeting and after voting to give Hutton $820,000 of City incentives, your reporter asked Walmart executive and City Council member Zack Paulk, "Could you support your family (1 wife; 2 children) on $8.40hr.?"

Councilman Paulk answered, "We can't tell em' what to pay. It's creatin' jobs."

Thursday night the Hutton Road Show is scheduled for the County 5.

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