San Antonio officials may set additional conditions for high-profile corporations considering relocating here in order to receive substantial tax breaks from the city.
Prospective employers would be required to pay at least $15 per hour, encourage gender equality in the workplace, and invest more in their own businesses in order to qualify for tax benefits and cash incentives under a new set of proposed standards.
Companies relocating to San Antonio might receive even more public cash if they set up shop in the city’s poorer neighborhoods and pledge to hire more residents.
The nationwide practice of using tax dollars to entice private companies to relocate to states and cities has become more contentious in recent years, with critics questioning whether companies truly need the money and communities receive a proper return-on-investment in the form of higher-paying jobs.
The approach will help San Antonio remain competitive while “not giving away the farm,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said at a City Council briefing on the subject on Wednesday.
“I think that sends a signal that we’re no longer to be relying on tax abatements to bring in businesses here,” Nirenberg said.
The Proposed Restrictions Will Make It More Difficult For Businesses to Obtain Tax Breaks
To qualify for a property tax relief under current legislation, firms must generate 50 employees or spend at least $10 million in their business.
If the proposed criteria are approved by City Council, corporations will be required to reach the minimum job target and invest $200 million.
At least 15% of the company’s workers would have to be graduates of Nirenberg’s Ready to Work program, a $154 million sales tax project aimed at assisting unemployed citizens to find better-paying jobs.
Employers would be required to demonstrate “gender pay parity practices,” which include promoting women into leadership roles and providing adequate maternity care benefits, among other things. They would also have to pay female staff the same as male ones, according to Assistant City Manager Alex Lopez.
“That’s what we’re going to be looking for,” Lopez said.
Companies would be required to pay a livable wage of $15 per hour, up from the existing city guideline of $12.74.
If enterprises meet further conditions, the city may provide further incentives. For example, if a business decides to locate in a low-income neighborhood, it may be eligible for tax incentives and grants over a longer period of time.