Proposed Charter Amendment
An amendment of Article XII of the City of Austin Charter to add new Section 13 to provide as follows:
Â§ 13Â Prohibition on Special Benefits for Retail Projects
(a)Â Â Statement of Intention.Â The city is authorized by Tex. Loc. Govâ€™t. Code Chapter 380, and other applicable law to enter into economic development agreements to encourage or foster economic growth.Â Notwithstanding the foregoing, it is the intention of this section to restrict the use or expenditure of tax revenues or other resources of the city to provide subsidies, financial benefits or advantages for development of real property that includes one or more Retail Uses.Â It is the intention of this section to ensure fair and equal treatment as between operators of Retail Uses, and particularly to ensure that small retail businesses are not disadvantaged by subsidies and financial benefits given by the city to competing Retail Uses.
(b)Â Â Restriction.Â The city shall neither provide nor enter into an agreement to provide any Financial Incentive in connection with the development or re-development of any real property that includes one or more Retail Uses.
(c)Â Â Applicability.Â Upon adoption of this Section 13, the restriction provided in this Section 13 shall apply to any pending agreement for the payment of a Financial Incentive by the city in connection with any Retail Use if such agreement provides that the obligation to pay a Financial Incentive pursuant to such agreement is contingent on or subject to the cityâ€™s appropriation of funds for the payment of the Financial Incentive.
(d)Â Â Definitions.Â As used in this Section 13, the following terms shall have the following meanings:
(1)Â Â â€œFinancial Incentiveâ€ means: (i) any payment or rebate of any general or special sales tax or ad valorem tax, whether assessed against property proposed to be developed or re-developed or resulting from taxable activity on such property; (ii) a donation of an interest in real property owned by the city; (iii) a special right of use, without fair compensation therefore, of any park land or undeveloped land owned by the city that is a right or use not provided for the benefit of all property located in the city; (iv) forgiveness or discharge of a loan or any part of a loan made by the city; or (v) a grant of funds.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the following shall not constitute a Financial Incentive: (i) cost participation by the city in constructing street or utility improvements (as, for example, oversizing of utility improvements to accommodate future development) consistent with generally applicable city policies and practices, provided that the developerâ€™s or ownerâ€™s share of such costs fairly and reasonably approximates the cost of construction of such improvements suitable to serve the improvements and uses intended by the developer or owner of a Retail Use benefited thereby; (ii) a grant or loan to a small business, whose principal office is in Austin, Texas, pursuant to a generally applicable local small business loan or grant program; (iii) an expenditure of funds (other than a tax abatement) pursuant to the Tax Increment Financing Act, Tex. Tax Code Chapter 311 or tax increment financing effected pursuant to Tex. Loc. Govâ€™t Code Chapter 374, as amended from time to time; (iv) subsidies or incentives given to promote efficient energy use, the use of renewable energy, or decreased water usage pursuant to a program adopted by the city for such purpose; (v) a grant of funds which are provided either by the State of Texas or by an agency of the federal government, whether directly to the city, or for the expenditure of which the city must give approval or authorization; (vi) an expenditure of funds charged by the city and paid by developers of real property for regional drainage detention,Â Â regional water quality facilities, or other public improvements; or (vii) an expenditure of funds pursuant to an economic development program adopted by the city council for the revitalization of economically distressed areas of the city or areas of the city experiencing high rates of unemployment for the development or redevelopment of a project with a total of not more than 25,000 square feet of habitable improvements.
(2)Â Â â€œRetail Useâ€ and â€œRetail Usesâ€ shall mean the use or proposed use of improvements to real property for the sale directly to the public of any commercial or consumer goods, including but not limited to the sale directly to the public of clothing, appliances, jewelry, furniture, pets, building materials, plants, drugs and personal hygiene goods, home accessories, household items, packaged or prepared food and beverages, recorded music, office supplies, and any other goods sold directly to the public.Â â€œRetail Usesâ€ shall not include a wholesale or distribution center or manufacturing or assembly facility in which goods are stored, assembled, or manufactured for transport off-site for later sale; daycare services; medical, counseling, or nursing care facilities; any enterprise operated by a non-profit corporation or a governmental entity; public or private educational facilities; performing arts venues; museums; or libraries.
(e)Â Â Enforcement.Â Â Any resident of the City of Austin shall have standing to assert a claim for declaratory or injunctive relief in any court of competent jurisdiction arising out of a violation of this Section 13.