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One Oklahoma City Council member has called the idea of offering Costco up to $3 million worth of incentives “stupid” and another member questions the necessity of it.

O'Connor presents resolution incentives
Cathy O’Connor (L) presenting the resolution to enter into negotiations with Costco (Brett Dickerson)

The Council voted 7-2 Tuesday for city representatives to offer Costco incentives of up to $3 million to locate its first metro store inside Oklahoma City limits.

North-side Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid and south-side Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone were the two who voted against the resolution.

“Stupid”

Shadid told Free Press after the meeting he thought Costco “is going to come anyway” and called the idea of offering up to $3 million of incentives to the already successful company “stupid.”

He said that when the city has an organization already set up to “hand out” incentives and people staffing the organization for that purpose then Costco will ask for it.

“They are going to engage in the extortion,” said Shadid.

“When you have a pile of money there and they are coming anyway why not demand it?”

Shadid has been outvoted 8-1 so many times on the Council he regularly makes jokes about it.

But, this time another council member with considerably different political views joined him in voting against the measure.

“Worried”

Southside Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone was less abrupt but no less skeptical of the go-ahead to work out an incentive deal with Costco.

Todd Stone, incentives
Ward 4 Councilman Todd Stone (Brett Dickerson)

“I’m worried about paying someone who will come in and potentially hurt other businesses that are already there that maybe didn’t receive those incentives,” Stone told Free Press after the meeting.

“Tulsa only gave them $2 million. Why do you have to give them $3 million in a bigger market?”

Stone, a home builder and experienced in purchasing lots for building, said he has been told the extra $1 million over Tulsa’s incentive was because the lot had “so many issues” because of a creek that dissects the rough, undeveloped property.

“I know when I buy a crappy lot, I discount that crappy lot. That’s just the market,” said Stone. “Why didn’t they just discount the price of the lot?”

Negotiations move forward

But, the two council members were outvoted by the other seven and negotiations will move forward.

Cathy O’Connor, President/CEO of the nonprofit Alliance for Economic Development contracts with the city to carry out negotiations like this one and was the one who presented the resolution to the Council Tuesday.

She pursued a similar line of reasoning as in past negotiations, which is that The City of Oklahoma City would be a net winner from increased tax receipts if the negotiations go according to plan and projections prove true.

And, in a process used often in such negotiations, incentives would be parceled out over years only when the company met certain benchmarks agreed upon in the deal.

She reported the city’s estimates of tax receipts Costco could produce over six years:

For the initial six years, it is projected that Costco will annually generate approximately $600,000 -$1,100,000 in new City General Fund sales tax, $270,000 – $500,000 in new Better Streets, Safer City sales tax, $200,000 – $375,000 in new Public Safety sales tax and $35,000 – $60,000 in Zoo sales tax.

“We will begin negotiating an agreement with Costco that we will bring back to Council for their approval and consideration once it’s completed,” O’Connor told gathered media after the meeting.

She said they wanted to bring a negotiated agreement back to the Council for approval some time around the end of March.

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