Dayton voters may be heading to the polls to decide the future of the Dayton Community Development Corporation if the council decides to call for an election.
The Dayton City Council will hear a resolution at a special called session Wednesday, Aug. 3, that would ask voters to dissolve the DCDC and its half-cent sales tax while simultaneously increasing the city's sales and use tax from 1% to 1.5%, with a net neutral impact.
Currently, the DCDC brings in between $800,000 to a million in sales tax collections each year, depending on sales tax collections. If voters approve, the change half will continue to go to economic development projects within the city. In contrast, the other half would be earmarked for street and infrastructure improvement funds.
"It's not going to cost the residents any more than they are currently paying in taxes," said City Manager Steve Floyd.
According to Floyd, the funds will allow Dayton, which is already trying to overcome economic shortfalls and aging infrastructure, to utilize existing funds to assist them in improving streets and other necessary projects related to infrastructure, which is in many ways substandard.
"I'm trying to bring some commonsense solutions to the financial crisis the city of Dayton is in. We desperately need streets reconstructed and improved water and sewer infrastructure," said Floyd.
As for economic development, Floyd believes it can and should be handled by the city, not by a third-party board.
"I don't think giving funds to corporate fast-food restaurants is economic development. I'm interested in seeking living wage jobs. Obviously, if we were in a different position, I'd have a different approach," said Floyd
DCDC President and former city council candidate Tonya Smikal does not share the same sentiment as the city manager.
"I think it's incredibly short-sighted of the council to even consider this as an option, especially given the stage of growth we are in as a city," said Smikal.
Floyd has praise for the DCDC board, both past and present, but believes the best course is to utilize tax incentives for better-paying economic development opportunities.
"In no way do we plan on doing away with economic development or tax abatements for large industries. This will be done through the city manager's office with approval from the city council," said Floyd.
If the council approves the resolution, they will call for an election on Tuesday, Nov. 8, through the Liberty County Office of Elections.
According to Floyd, his staff is hard at work trying to right the ship of previous city mismanagement, and this is just one of those solutions to make things right in Dayton.
"Obviously, Dayton has got to make some changes, and this is just one of many," Floyd said.
Council will consider this resolution, set the proposed tax rate, and call for a public hearing at 5 pm on Wednesday at the Dayton Community Center.