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LCDA considers e-commerce tax break referendum in 2020

The Liberty County Development Authority wants to give businesses in electronic commerce a tax break for locating in Liberty County but has been unable to agree on a date for the required referendum.

Voters must approve the e-commerce tax exemption and the mechanics of holding a referendum mean it is already too late to get e-commerce on the ballot this year. The Liberty County Commission will set a date for the referendum, likely March 2020 or November 2020.

The e-commerce measure--along with the Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax, which also requires a vote--were discussed as priorities at the annual Liberty County planning workshop. Top priority was given to development of Exit 76 at the interchange of I-95 and Islands Highway in Midway.

The Liberty County Development Authority met Aug. 26, and discussed water issues at the authority’s Tradeport East park including an elevated water tank estimated to cost $1.6 million. 

An elevated tank is part of the TPE master plan but a surface tank has been providing water: “We didn’t have the money to build the elevated tank before,” said LCDA Executive Director Ron Tolley.

The authority approved an estimated cost of $105,000 for design, permitting and other work needed to prepare the water system before the new tank is installed. 

The $1.6 million to build and install the elevated tank is not in the current LCDA budget. “We will have to look for funding sources,” said Carmen Cole, director of administration and finance.

After a closed-door session the Authority agreed to contribute up to $15,000 to water improvements needed at the future site of Western Power Sports in TPE.

The $15,000 is part of LCDA’s work to finalize agreements with Western Power Sports. The Idaho-based company bought 33 acres in the park for $309,000 and has been moving toward an industrial lease agreement and a memorandum of understanding with the authority. Up to $16 million in revenue bonds is authorized to help pay for the project.

Based in Boise, Idaho, Western Power Sports was incorporated in 1960 and distributes over 130,000 products that include off-road and street motorcycle, All Terrain Vehicle, snowmobile, and watercraft parts and accessories to thousands of dealers nationwide.

The company appears to be publicity shy and no figures have been released about local employment or economic impact on the Liberty County area.

Parker can be contacted by email at

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