The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will consider a resolution to establish a Pine Bluff Opportunity Zone Task Force to take advantage of a community development program established by Congress as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
Also on the agenda is a resolution to adopt the 2019 municipal budget of just over $20.8 million.
According to the resolution to establish the task force, Opportunity Zones are designed to encourage long-term private investments in low-income communities and provide a federal tax incentive for taxpayers who reinvest unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds.
The U.S. Treasury Department has approved three opportunity zones in Pine Bluff that were recommended by Governor Asa Hutchinson.
The resolution goes on to say that many Pine Bluff businesses and non-profit organizations are planning projects in the Opportunity Zone areas, and many public and private entities have already invested in properties within the Opportunity Zones.
Duties for the task force will include providing guidance for the creation of an Opportunity Zone website, including a map showing areas of the city that qualify for projects, providing guidance relating to marketing projects and getting the information to potential investors, recommending new state, local and federal policies and incentives to boost funds returns and increasing development in the zones, along with a number of others.
The resolution calls for representatives of 15 different organizations to be represented, including the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Go Forward Pine Bluff, the Urban Renewal Agency, Southeast Arkansas Regional Planning Commission, the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Library, Pine Bluff Waste Water, the city’s Zoning and Economic and Community Development Departments, the Downtown Property Owners Association and Pine Bluff Downtown Development.
In addition, the task force will include ex-officio members to include the mayor, members of the City Council, the county judge, members of the Quorum Court, members of the county’s legislative delegation, and the superintendents of the Pine Bluff and Dollarway school districts.
Meetings are to be held at least once each quarter and will end Jan. 1, 2020, or until it has accomplished its assigned goals
Finally, the resolution provides that the task force will not have a budget and participation is on a volunteer basis. However, it goes on to say that task force members are encouraged to “leverage funds in their budgets to underwrite contractual services related to the scope of work in their business, agency or organization’s goals of creating social or economic impact using the framework of Opportunity Zones.”
Alderman Bruce Lockett is the sponsor of the resolution.