The City of Brownwood hasn’t paid a dime of the sales tax rebate it has owed to Home Deport since a 2005 agreement that brought the big box store to town — but it hasn’t been for lack of trying.
Brownwood Finance Director Walter Middleton told council members Tuesday the city has money set aside and will pay up next month, now that company has responded to a “bookkeeping issue.”
Middleton said he doesn’t yet know how much the city owes, but it won’t be more than $540,000 — money the city has been setting aside so it can honor the seven-year contract to rebate half of the store’s sales taxes.
Middleton said he had been trying to resolve three issues with Home Depot but had been hampered until recently because he couldn’t get in touch with people who could answer his questions. He said he left many voice mails that weren’t returned.
One issue, Middleton said, was obtaining a mailing address for sending the rebates, which were to be paid once a year according to the contract.
Another issue was the city not receiving all of the store’s monthly sales tax reports. The city needed copies of reports Home Depot was sending the State Comptrollers office for the Brownwood store as stipulated in the contract, so the city would know how much it owed, Middleton said.
The third issue was a matter of timing: the contract for the city to make rebate payments is for seven years. However, Home Depot opened on March 18, 2005. He said there is no mechanism for reporting sales tax collections for partial months. Middleton said he had been trying to ask the company how it wanted to resolve that issue.
Middleton said City Manager Bobby Rountree has directed him to send a check and a letter to the company explaining that the city intends to terminate the contract on Feb. 28, 2012 , meaning the first 18 days in March 2012 won’t be counted.
The city will tell Home Depot that if it cashes the city’s check, it is agreeing to the city’s decision, Middleton said. If the company doesn’t agree, it will need to make the city a counter-off and “we’ll have to iron it out,” he said.
In other business, council members:
• Approved an ordinance on second and third readings changing the zoning at 2301 Austin Avenue from R-1 (Single Family District) to CN (Neighborhood Commercial District).
• Approved an ordinance on second and third readings designating the Chief of Police as the city’s local rabies control authority.
• Approved an amendment to the interim Meet and Confer agreement between the Brownwood Municipal Police Association and the City of Brownwood extending the term of the agreement for an additional 60 days.