Lamar County Commissioners approved a tax abatement and declined a request for a budget item request to buy jeans under a uniforms line item Monday during their regular meeting.
Potters Industries LLC, will soon be looking to fill dozens of new job vacancies as commissioners unanimously voted to approve a 10-year tax abatement agreement with the glass bead manufacturer.
“I favor these kinds of agreements, because what will make the community more prosperous over time is constant investment and planning ahead,” County Judge Chuck Superville said. “Potters continues to grow, and we thank you for being here.”
In exchange for the tax reduction, Potters Industries promises to construct a 1,600-square-foot warehouse to install manufacturing and other personal property as well as retain at least 40 full-time employees for the duration of the agreement.
More employees may also be needed, Superville said, citing there “was a likelihood of more employment.”
The investments and improvements are being made to allow Potters Industries to expand its production capacity of glass by a minimum of 25 percent to meet anticipated demand.
The total investment in the new warehouse, manufacturing equipment and other personal property is $5.25 million, with $500,000 of that going toward building the warehouse and the cost of the new machinery, equipment and other personal property totaling $4.75 million.
The abatement period begins Jan. 1, 2017-Dec. 31, 2026.
The commissioners also unanimously approved placing two signs marking the Trooper Jeffrey Nichols Memorial Highway.
One sign will be placed near 4200 Lamar Ave., going eastbound near Walmart, and the other will be placed going westbound at the Lamar and Red River county lines. Nichols was originally from Detroit.
“I think that is very appropriate to put [the signs] on that side of town, and I appreciate what you guys do,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Rodney Pollard told James Kain, a trooper with the Texas Highway Patrol.
Kain said that there would be an unveiling ceremony for the road signs, much like the signs placed for the Sgt. Jay M. Hoskins Memorial Highway. That date has not yet been announced.
In other business, the commissioners heard discussion from several county law enforcement employees, including Precinct 2 Constable Vance Boehler, in regards to the payment of certain line items on Boehler’s “Uniforms, Badges and Emblems” budget.
According to Superville, Boehler purchased several items of plain clothing, including at least one pair of designer Rock & Roll Cowboy Jeans for $72.99.
Due to the IRS’ definition of a uniform, Boehler and other constables are able to write off the clothing as income on 1099 forms as well as seek reimbursement from the county.
“I don’t see why I am the one being singled out,” Boehler said before the commissioners. “It’s left up to interpretation and you know that.”
Superville said Boehler was not being singled out and blamed himself for not noticing the discrepancy in previous reimbursement claims.
“I was surprised that we were buying street clothes for certain Lamar County employees and elected officials but not for others,” Superville explained. “And that is what I am struggling with in my mind is how do we buy blue jeans and cowboy shirts for you or others, and what do we say to others? How do we make that distinction?”
After a lengthy discussion, the commissioners decided to table adopting a uniform-adopting policy, while a vote to approve Boehler’s claims among others was declined with a 2-3 vote. Commissioners Lonnie Layton and Lawrence Malone voted in favor of paying for the line items and other county claims, while Keith Mitchell, Pollard and Superville voted against the decision.
In other business, the commissioners unanimously passed two memorandum of understanding agreements with the cities of Reno and Blossom for use of the county’s CodeRED emergency system.