CLEARWATER — Pinellas County economic development staff on Tuesday celebrated voters’ approval of a new tax incentive for companies that bring high-paying jobs to the county.
The result means the county can waive up to 10 years of property taxes for companies that relocate to Pinellas or to local companies that expand their operations.
The low-key referendum was only placed on the ballot at the end of May and, in sharp contrast to the heated battle over the Greenlight Pinellas transit plan, it has barely been discussed by candidates running for county commission.
More than half of Florida’s 67 counties, including Hillsborough and Sarasota, and many larger cities, including Tampa and St. Petersburg, already offer the incentive.
“It’s a wonderful additional tool in our tool box to attract new businesses and new jobs to Pinellas County and to help our existing companies to grow,” said Mike Meidel, Pinellas director of economic development. “It helps us to stay competitive with the surrounding area.”
The incentive would be available only to companies in targeted industries such as manufacturing, IT or financial services that are planning new manufacturing plants, offices or facilities or major expansions of existing businesses.
The tax will be waived only for new premises or additions, meaning companies with existing buildings still will pay taxes on those.
Applications for the incentive would have to be approved by the Board of County Commissioners. The level of incentive would depend on the number of jobs being created, the salaries offered and the potential economic impact from the new jobs offered.
Typically, the new jobs would have to pay be at least 115 percent of the state or county average wage.