A new venture by Lawrence entrepreneur David Kimbrell received the go-ahead from the Lawrence City Commission for $900,000 in industrial revenue bonds, but not before the commission were lectured on tax incentives by two Kansas University professors.
The commission unanimously approved a request by Kimbrell's new Scanning USA Inc. for the IRBs, which allows the company to qualify for a 10-year, 50 percent abatement from property taxes.
Scanning USA proposes to build an office building in Oread West Research Park. The company, headed by Kimbrell, the co-founder and former owner of Hall-Kimbrell Environmental Services, will convert hand-drawn architectural plans to computer software.
THE COMPANY plans to employ 60 people locally with an annual payroll of more than $1.4 million.
A public hearing held before the commission's consideration of the IRB request elicited comments from two KU business professors who questioned local tax abatement policies.
The professors, Allen Ford and Jack Gaumnitz, both said the commission needs to further study its policies and individual requests before granting abatements.
"I'm not totally convinced we are using the taxpayers' money wisely," Ford said.
Gaumnitz told commissioners that offering tax abatements to companies puts the the city in the position of favoring one group of taxpayers over others.
"CITY commissions, in my opinion, ought not to be in these areas of favoring one group over the other. . . . You start favoring a little bit here and a little bit there, whether it be a service company, manufacturing or anything else, and you're getting away from essentially what is the strength of this country: To allow for a level playing field and then let people compete," Gaumnitz said.
He added that Lawrence, with a fairly stable economy, should not play give-away with tax abatements.