Tisdale offered incentive

Published 12:02 am Thursday, October 7, 2010

Two weeks ago, local real estate developer John Tisdale approached the Andalusia City Council seeking incentives.

Specifically, Tisdale, who owns several retail properties, wanted the city to rebate sales taxes to developers who bring new retail outlets to Andalusia. Tisdale asked for a blanket policy that would have given him and other developers 100 percent of city sales taxes generated by a new retailer for the first three years the retailer operated here, and half of city sales taxes for the subsequent seven years.

The council took the request under advisement and on Tuesday, approved a substituted proposal offered by Mayor Earl Johnson that he described as a “win-win.”

The mayor said Tisdale is working with a “large retail clothing store” that may locate in the former Goody’s site in Westgate Plaza.

Johnson proposed putting half of the sales tax generated by the potential retailer for the first five years into a trust fund managed by the city. The funds would be dispersed to Tisdale to match any money he spent improving property he owns in downtown Andalusia.

“It would have to be used on existing real estate he owns in the downtown area,” Johnson said. “He would match dollar-for-dollar anything paid out of the trust fund.”

The city also would prioritize which building the funds should be spent on, Johnson said.

If the funds were not used by the end of six years, the funds would revert back to the city.

“There is no question there would be benefit to the city if this retailer located here,” Johnson said. “There would be 30 to 35 new jobs and a half-million dollar payroll.”

Johnson said the city has given incentives to two other retailers in the past, and said those businesses have helped Andalusia’s sales tax base remain steady during the recession.

“We’re not plowing new ground here,” he said. “Prattville has borrowed millions of dollars to become a major retail center. We are dealing with small change by comparison.”