WAYNE – Again, last Tuesday, voters in the city of Wayne were asked to vote on four economic development items. While three of them passed, one which called for an additional sales tax, failed by a slim margin.
Yesterday, we talked with Wayne City Administrator, Wes Blecke. Today we get the response from Wayne Area Economic Development Director, Luke Virgil on why he believes one part of the plan didn’t pass.
“I think a lot of people either don’t want to think about that, don’t want to pay for. Or maybe we didn’t do a good enough job telling the story as to why we felt that was a necessity. I am really grateful that the voters chose to continue the other three ballot initiatives, the existing 1%, the economic development program and the half percent for parks and rec. We’re very appreciative of those initiatives passing and overwhelmingly. So, from what I saw on the returns, so thank you to the voters.”
While the City of Wayne could not financially advocate for the propositions, Wayne Area Economic Development could – and, was tasked with that responsibility. Virgil went onto add what the economic development plan is going forward now that the election has passed.
“Those programs that we have in place are going to continue, we’ve seen great success with them. The loan and grant program has had over $4 million of impact over 13 – 14 years. We expect those sales tax revenues to grow over the next 15 years. So, we hope that programming continues and that impacts continues to grow as well. I know we’ve talked a lot about what’s going to happen in the old lagoon area. I see those funds because there’s that half percent designated for parks and recreation. A lot of those funds are going to go into that lagoon renovation project. If that’s what you want to call it.”
In Monday’s interview with Blecke, he indicated that the City Council could go back to the voters in two years. Virgil talked about what another approach might look like.
“I think it’s just continuing to educate and understanding that this sales tax does not impact every local Wayne resident every day. Because you’re not always buying stuff, but if there’s a visitor coming to town, they help offset some of that tax burden because they’re paying a sales tax when they do transactions in the community. The other education piece is whatever the project decision would be, and that’s up to city council now, we would have to go back to the drawing board over the next couple of years. Just being better prepared and better educated for the electorates. So, they understand that the project is valid, the project is needed and it’s something that the sales tax will help offset.”
Executive Director of Wayne Area Economic Development, Virgil then closed with a thank you.
“Just want to thank the voters for supporting some of the existing programs that we had and being willing to continue those for our perspective at Wayne Area Economic Development. We really appreciate having access to some of those funds through the revolving loan program. It gives our community a leg up in certain situations with business recruitment/business retention. We know that the city has been very adept at taking those funds and capitalizing on them for the improvement of the community. And it’s public works like the water, sewer and streets and electric stuff. And it’s the quality-of-life stuff that we saw with parks and rec, the trails, all those different projects we identified through the election process. The city’s been good stewards of those funds and we expect that to continue.”
Both yesterday’s Part ONE and today’s Part TWO of the ‘Election and Economic Impact’ are posted on waynedailynews.com under the local news tab for your reference.