Petition pushing election for $300M Mayes County TIF for economic development clears signature hurdle | State and Regional News

A $300 million tax increment financing district approved by Mayes County commissioners in late April could be headed to a general election Nov. 8.

The Mayes County Election Board determined Monday that a referendum petition asking for the TIF to go to a vote of the people surpassed the legal threshold of 10% of the registered voters in Mayes County, said Matt Primm, assistant district attorney for District 12, which serves Mayes, Rogers and Craig counties.

The Election Board determined that of the 3,016 signatures included in the petition, 2,383 were valid, Primm said. It needed to get at least 2,325 signatures to reach the 10% threshold.

Roughly two months ago, Mayes County commissioners voted 2-1 to support a 12-year TIF district inside MidAmerica Industrial Park to lure what has been deemed the largest proposed economic development project in Oklahoma history. Hoping to attract at least a $3 billion investment from an unnamed company, Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill this spring to provide the firm up to $698 million in rebates based on capital investment and job creation.

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Citing a confidentiality agreement, government officials have declined to name the firm, but it has been widely reported to be Panasonic. The company has signed contracts with Tesla and Canoo — which plans to build its own facility at MidAmerica — to provide electric batteries for their vehicles.

The company, which reportedly is looking at sites in both Oklahoma and Kansas, hasn’t made clear when it will make a decision.

Reached late Monday afternoon, a spokeswoman for MAIP Chief Administrative Officer David Stewart declined to comment.

Titled Project Ocean, the development would lead to the creation of up to 6,000 new direct jobs, 1,200 indirect jobs, 16,000 new housing units and a population increase of 18,000, according to the project plan.

TIFs allow governmental entities to use a portion of property taxes generated within the district to invest in the district’s infrastructure, providing an incentive for private investment.

The terms of the TIF, which would encompass 588 acres inside MAIP, call for the manufacturer to receive $100 million and MidAmerica to receive $50 million to fund infrastructure needs.

The remaining $150 million would go to schools, a vo-tech and other local entities that rely on property taxes to fund their operations.

On Monday, the Mayes County Election Board provided an affidavit validating the petition signatures that was supposed to be published in The Paper, the newspaper of record in Mayes County, but that didn’t happen, and the publish date has been pushed to June 20, Primm said.

From June 20, any qualified elector will have 10 days to file a protest in district court. The court will set a hearing date not less than 10 days from the filing of the protest and then will determine whether the petition and/or count is valid.

A successful referendum petition would put the question on the November ballot, although appeals on the ballot title and/or petition are possible, Primm said. He added that he expects the appellate court process to be expedited to preserve the November date as an option. If not, the question would be on the next general county election.

Featured video: Google makes further investment in MidAmerica Industrial Park

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