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Project Penguin opts out of Marble Falls and Texas due to taxes

A manufacturing company codenamed 'Project Penguin' has decided not to move to Marble Falls after all because of state's high property taxes. The manufacturer planned to move into the Business & Technology Park off of U.S. 281 North in Marble Falls. Courtesy photo

“Project Penguin” is dead. The Marble Falls Economic Development Corp. Board of Directors terminated a previous agreement with the anonymous manufacturer during its regular meeting Wednesday, June 1. The company, which would have brought 120 jobs to the area, opted out of the move due to the Texas tax system, said EDC Executive Director Christian Fletcher.

“It was a light manufacturing company that produces a widget for something,” Fletcher said. “This was going to be their first Texas operation, but they did not understand the business personal property (BPP) tax situation in Texas.”

According to Fletcher, the Project Penguin company’s BPP tax liability would double in Texas over what it pays in its home state. 

“This was a tax that they did not incur where they were coming from, so it would have taken their total property tax liability from a quarter-million a year to $500,000 a year,” Fletcher said.

BPP is a tax on all items a company uses to conduct business, including furniture, computers, machinery, tools, inventory, supplies, and other equipment. In 2018, Texas had the third-highest BPP tax in the country at 2.39 percent, behind Mississippi and Michigan, according to a Texas Taxpayers and Research Association study. 

IN OTHER BUSINESS

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

The EDC board on Wednesday was told $3.4 million worth of commercial property was sold in the area in May. More than $31 million worth of commercial property is currently under contract, said Midge Dockery, the EDC’s Business Development coordinator. 

“We have generated a lot of interest in commercially zoned property,” Dockery said. “Marble Falls is on the radar for a lot of people that are seeing the activity that we are currently experiencing, and so they potentially want a piece of that action.” 

SALES TAX REVENUES

Fletcher cited across-the-board retail gains for the astronomical growth in sales tax revenue for the city. Marble Falls has been one of the most productive economies in the state of Texas for a long time, he reported.

“Per capita, we’re one of the top in the state,” he said. “Over the last several months, we have grown accustomed to 25-35 percent year-over-year gains, which is unprecedented.” 

The most recent allocation of sales tax revenue saw a year-over-year increase of 7.82 percent, but that is still a marked increase over a record-breaking allocation in 2021. 

“This is still the largest allocation we have ever received, over one of our previous highest allocations ever received,” Fletcher said.

NEW CITY HALL

The EDC also learned about city negotiations with an architectural firm to do a needs assessment for a new City Hall. The firm will give a presentation to the Marble Falls City Council on June 21. The new City Hall is part of the city master plan that has been in place since 2016. 

The current City Hall, 800 Third St., is a repurposed bank that was built in the 1950s. 

The EDC meets at noon on the first Wednesday of the month in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Agendas are available online when posted

dakota@thepicayune.com

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