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Stop Domain group to deliver signatures on Friday
Thursday, February 7, 2008 by Austin Monitor
The group Stop Domain Subsidies—which has been gathering signatures to change the City Charter—is almost ready to turn about 20,000 signatures over to City Clerk Shirley Gentry for verification. Brian Rodgers, the group’s founder, said he would be meeting with Gentry today for clarification of some details and turning in petitions Friday afternoon.
Stop Domain Subsidies wants to amend the charter in order to stop any more economic incentive agreements like the one for The Domain and prohibit the city from making any tax rebate payments to the developers of the upscale shopping center. Stop Domain Subsidies has been gathering signatures since late September.
Rodgers said petitioners have gathered 27,500 “raw,” or unverified signatures “and we overshot it some,” in an effort to make sure they would have enough to qualify for the May 10 ballot.
Gentry told In Fact Daily the group needs 18,433 valid signatures, which represents 5 percent of the “qualified voters” in the City of Austin. That is a slightly smaller number than petitioners needed to try to amend the charter in 2006, the last time there was a charter election.
In addition to preventing future retail incentives, the charter amendment would apply to “any pending agreement for the payment of a financial incentive” in cases in which “the obligation to pay…is contingent on or subject to the city’s appropriation of funds for the payment.”
Stop Domain Subsidies claims that the developer, originally Endeavor Real Estate, exaggerated property tax benefits and misled the city about the wages that would be paid to retail workers at the Domain.
Simon Properties, which purchased The Domain from Endeavor, has strenuously denied Rodgers’ claims, insisting that any tax rebates would be “entirely performance-based – that is, the City, County and the developer will share only in the new taxes that the project creates.”
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