Politics & Government

Consultant: Perry has options to upgrade itself

PERRY -- Plans to spruce up Perry’s Courtney Hodges Boulevard, improve the city’s hotel industry and upgrade signage will cost money, but a consultant said Thursday that money is vital.

“Figure out what you want to do and then figure out how to fund it, because there are a lot of ways. ... If something is important, there are ways to do it,” said Langford Holbrook of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, who helps cities with planning.

Thursday’s talk revolved around Perry’s strategic master plan, which generally calls for sprucing up the community and better tying existing offerings together. Some of those changes are through relatively small projects, from adding more plants near major intersections to adding sidewalks and better connecting the city’s parks and neighborhoods.

Tuesday’s meeting primarily was attended by Perry city employees. Two City Council members also attended.

Holbrook said financing options include revenue bonds, tax allocation districts, community improvement districts and opportunity zones. Perry already has a citywide opportunity zone, but city officials said Thursday they didn’t know if the city also had been granted permission to use some of the other tools.

Most of those tools depend on incremental improvements in taxes to pay for the publicly financed improvements. For example, streetscape and sidewalk work could lead to more development and more businesses that would bring more tax money that could pay for the bonds that funded the improvements.

Langford said Perry has a lot to offer, including great highway access and plentiful water. He urged Perry leaders not to get into a bidding war with tax subsidies to attract every potentially interested business that could help the town. Perry can afford to pick and choose, he said, and it has potential.

“Sooner or later, everyone in Boston is going to move down here, with another winter like (the recent one),” he quipped.

To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.

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