By: Sam Holbrooks
Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Just in time to be introduced to the Seminole Economic Development Corporation's new proposed 2018-2019 budget, area businessmen Amy Bradley and Tim Neufeld took their seats on the Board of Directors for the SEDC as the group held its regularly scheduled meeting at City Hall on Monday afternoon. The new members were chosen to fill the seats recently vacated by Anna Friessen and now Mayor, John Belcher.
Unlike past members, Bradley and Neufeld received an orientation from City Administrator Tommy Phillips to help streamline the learning curve. Phillips familiarized them with the SEDC as a quasi-governmental group, answerable to the City of Seminole, with the same open meetings, open records requirements of other government entities. Phillips explained the purpose of the EDC, how it is funded, ethics guidelines, and other components.
Board members received copies of the proposed 2018-2019 budget for their consideration in coming weeks. The budget projection of $750,000 is based on revenues from a local half-cent sales tax that is committed to economic development. With steady increases in sales tax revenue -- up 17% for the month and 11.9% for the year -- this year's budget saw a $50,000 increase. The EDC receives an additional $25,000 in interest income.
Board members revisited an issue that was discussed at its June meeting, the possibility of a new relief route for truck traffic that would direct semi-trucks around town, rather than through the downtown area. Phillips and Mayor Belcher recently met with Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials at its Lubbock office.
Phillips said that, while the idea was well-received, he and Belcher were encouraged to approach the state commission for funding support. He added that, if such state assistance could be secured, phase one of the project would likely include a bypass that would connect West Highway 180 to Highway 385.
Phillips noted that the benefits to Seminole, which has the intersection of two state highways downtown, would be greater than other communities like Lamesa and Brownfield, whose downtown areas are set off from any main artery.
The Board also discussed the disposition of a nine-acre tract of EDC-owned land in the 1900-2000 block of Hobbs Highway. Once held as a prime location for a possible supermarket, those plans went cold, and Board members were asked to consider whether the land should be held for future development, or put on the market for sale.
The group also discussed whether some Board members should plan to attend the Connected Tech Expo, scheduled for October 17-18 in Las Vegas. The event's primary focus is one "smart" technologies for buildings, homes, and cities. Attendees will include a cross section of IT specialists, Architects, Engineers, Lighting Designers, City Managers/Urban Planners, Energy Consultants, Facility Managers, Security Managers, and Systems Integrators.