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Anticipated industrial development spurs application for state tax incentive program

As Scappoose makes progress on a new food cart ordinance, city officials are also exploring an industrial investment program.

On Monday, Nov. 5, city councilors authorized the city manager to apply for participation in the state's Regionally Significant Industrial Sites program.

RSIS is a component of Business Oregon, which offers state income tax reimbursement to municipalities for completing certain "site readiness" activities.

Readiness activities could include planning or land acquisition with the goal of establishing industrial activity that yields jobs.

Similar to an income tax deferral program offered to new businesses through Business Oregon, the RSIS will reimburse state income tax to participating cities or counties, as long as the site employs a minimum number of employees and pays those employees above-average wages.

"We are reimbursed slowly over time as we get a portion of the income tax reimbursement, so it's definitely slow, but ... probably better than nothing," Alexandra Rains, assistant to the city manager, told councilors.

For rural sites, employers must have at least 25 employees making 150 percent of the state or county wage, whichever is lower.

Whether or not Scappoose will become an RSIS participant remains to be seen, but the city is poised to approve a new food cart ordinance.

SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - An ordinance that would allow for food trucks and food cart pods in the city limits of Scappoose is expected to be adopted by early 2019. The city has seen food trucks, like Mira Ve, come and go using the citys temporary permitting process. City staff has been chipping away at proposed rules and regulations that would allow food carts and food cart pods in the city on a permanent basis. Currently, the city doesn't allow food stands or trucks beyond a temporary permit period of 90 days.

The biggest struggle councilors and staff have faced in developing rules for future food carts is determining how many rules and standards are appropriate.

Councilors were conflicted about how many design standards to dictate, especially for onsite bathrooms, but kept circling back to the idea that too many restrictions would steer off carts altogether.

Councilor Josh Poling said he'd rather see something "more permanent" for food cart pods than just portable restrooms.

City Planner Laurie Oliver acknowledged the sentiment.

"I agree," Oliver noted. "The struggle is trying to allow something like this to move forward at a low end, with lower startup costs."

Draft documents indicate the city hopes to have new regulations in place by February.

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