Waco: Mayoral candidates say infrastructure, better paying jobs crucial amid growth
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Waco mayoral candidates Dillon Meek and David Morrow - in a forum moderated by News 10 - said the city is growing and needs better infrastructure, a plan to attract good paying companies and new policies to curb rising property taxes.
Morrow, a former businessman, says the city needs to protect small businesses and lamented current policies that favor “big players.”
“I would prefer to focus tax incentives on small businesses that keeping profits in our communities,” Morrow said.
Meek said Waco needs to take a “diversified approach” as it works to attract companies to the region.
“We do need to improve the incentive offering process for small businesses,” Meek said, “I also think it’s important to get good incentives for good companies to come to Waco. We need to make sure we have good companies that pay good wages."
When it comes to employee salaries, Morrow said the City of Waco “needs to lead by example” and brought up the recently announced tax incentive deal that will bring a new Amazon distribution facility to the area.
“Amazon, their base pay is $15 an hour. If you look on the City of Waco’s job website there are a bunch of jobs that don’t pay $15 an hour," Morrow said, “If we’re going to require companies to offer good paying jobs, why doesn’t (the city) do that first?”
Morrow and Meek both said it is crucial for the city to help minority business owners get access to business loans.
Morrow said he has spoken with both Hispanic and African-American business owners and many express concerns about the difficulty of obtaining loans to grow their businesses.
“The city can provide some leadership in that area,” Morrow said, “The city needs to work with local banks to provide an enterprise fund to help provide that capital.”
“One of the stats here in Waco that haunts me is that 51% of African-American households in Waco make less than $25,000 a year,” Meek said, “I think it’s important for us to implement strategic measures to make sure that is not only reversed, but make sure that disparity no longer exists."
Meek also said it’s important to revitalize parts of the city while mitigating the effects of gentrification.
In the short term, Meek would like community members and organizations to have a say in how their neighborhoods are redeveloped. In the long term, Meek hopes his economic plan will help attract better paying jobs that will allow homeowners to live better and not be displaced by the rising property taxes.
Morrow said he recently spoke with an elderly homeowner who is on a fixed income and upset over rising property taxes.
“The city can make provisions to help people like her stay in their homes through a tax forgiveness program that would lock in a tax rate and that person could stay in that home,” Morrow said.
Morrow said he is concerned about the expense about providing utility services to new areas on the fringes of the city and would prefer a plan to improve infrastructure in the heart of the city.
Meek said Waco has “old infrastructure with deferred maintenance" and needs to plan for the future by master-planning communities.
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