In a unanimous 5-0 vote Tuesday, the Riverside Board of County Supervisors approved a plan designed to lure and retain businesses and jobs to the unincorporated areas of the county.

Supervisors to Improve Business Climate

(Photo courtesy of V. Manuel Perez)

The popular legislation was introduced by Fourth District Supervisor V. Manuel “Manny” Perez and First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries.

This policy, which has been in development since November, marks the first time the county has considered a full range of incentives and placed them on the books, according to Thomas S. Freeman, Perez’s chief of policy.

These incentives are the direct result of conversations with business leaders and job creators across the Fourth District and Riverside County.

The incentives package is also designed to be more customer and business friendly, one of Perez’s longtime goals.

Economic Development Agency Director Rob Field and Transportation & Land Management Agency Director Juan Perez, along with other staff, will spearhead drafting the proposed incentives and are expected to report back to the board on their progress in three months. The 90-day process will have staff from both supervisors’ staffs working with the county leadership team to develop implementing regulations and guidelines for board approval in late April 2019. As written the incentives approved in April would be retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

“Supervisor Perez’s and Supervisor Jeffries’ legislation would give county staff the tools they need to attract new jobs and business in the county,” Freeman told Uken Report. “At present, the county does not offer incentives. This would be the first time the board of supervisors authorized such programs and policies. Other communities in California offer incentives and if we are to be competitive these incentives will help.”

Among the incentives is a “Sales Tax Sharing Agreement” policy, which would allow the county to rebate a portion of sales tax revenue to select businesses, among other incentives.

Enhanced Infrastructure Financing Districts are also an incentive supervisors want considered.  EIFDs, authorized under Senate Bill 628 in 2014, permit bond sales to finance the construction of public and private projects, including flood control facilities, highways, sewage treatment plants, bridges, mixed-income housing developments and child care centers.

The possibility of implementing a program that would allow some developers to defer payment of impact fees to the county for qualifying projects is another element of the Perez-Jeffries proposal. Development Impact Fees, or DIFs, were slashed in half by the board during the Great Recession to lure builders to the region. The fees are collected to pay for libraries, road projects and other public resources.

Other proposed incentive policies and programs to stimulate job development, job retention, and create new revenue sources include:

  • create, on a case by case basis, the Partial Transient Occupancy Tax Revenue Sharing Agreement
  • create a Development Fee Deferral Agreement Program, on a case by case basis, for targeted business
  • expand and or review the Industrial Development Bond program that assists eligible and targeted industries in the issuance of bonds, on a case by case basis
  • directs a separate review of current fees for job creators, and seeks staff recommendations on fees that could be reduced, frozen, and/or eliminated to stimulate investment, growth, and job creation
  • directs the authorization to utilize, on a case by case basis, Community Revitalization and Investment Authorities (CRIA) programs

This is the second time in as many months that Perez has worked with one of his colleagues to introduce legislation unlike any in recent memory.

In December, Perez and Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington co-authored and introduced the Veterans Improvement Program of Riverside County. It passed unanimously.

Perez was appointed Supervisor less than nine months ago. Perez was a Democratic assembly member representing California’s 56th State Assembly when Gov. Jerry Brown appointed him to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, replacing the late John Benoit.