By Jacob Wilson/Garden Grove Journal
Westminster‘s best bet is on Best Buy.
On the same night the Westminster City Council passed its third-straight deficit budget, it unanimously approved a plan Wednesday to save one of its biggest businesses.
Concerned with the potential loss of tax revenues and jobs, the council passed an assistance plan to keep the city’s Best Buy store, located on the outside edge of the Westminster Mall, open and operating.
The agreement is a sales tax rebate program. For the first $500,000 of sales tax revenue that Best Buy brings in each year, the city will return 20 percent to the store.
The city would also pay back 50 percent of sales tax revenues for anything above the half-million dollar mark.
According to staff reports, the Westminster Best Buy Store has consistently generated at least $500,000 in annual sales tax revenues over the last five years.
But the recent economic slowdown has hurt both the store itself and the entire company. Best Buy executives had recently told city staff that the company was considering closing or relocating its Westminster store.
During his budget presentation, Westminster’s finance director Paul Espinoza told the city council that the finance department is taking steps to attract new big businesses to Westminster and to keep current businesses in the city.
The Best Buy plan appears to be the first step. Technically, the plan is a business and job retention agreement between the Westminster Redevelopment Agency and Best Buy Stores, L.P.
The city capped its total cost for the 10-year agreement at $1.6 million, including a one-time $250,000 grant for physical and energy improvements. The grant should help the store run at a lower cost.
To set aside money for the agreement, the council agreed to transfer $1.35 million from its Redevelopment Operating Fund Contingency and $250,000 from the Facade Improvement Program into a new Business and Job Retention Program fund. A balance of $424,854 remains in the contingency.