Archive for Sunday, January 29, 2006

Unfair abatement

January 29, 2006


To the editor:

I read with interest your recent story regarding the proposed tax abatement for Berry Plastics. I found the willingness of our government to abate taxes for potential expansion of that plant disturbing.

As I read that information, it appeared to me that any potential advantage gained by agreeing to the employer's scheme is far outweighed by the additional burden that such a proposal puts upon the taxpayers here in Douglas County who are required to pay their full tax burden. Particularly, it seems that such a proposal shifts that tax burden properly placed on a large employer, such as Berry, upon all of us employers who are unable to qualify for such a boondoggle.

However, the most disturbing aspect of the article was the quote from the company representative. The article indicated he said that "property taxes would still be higher in Lawrence than in other communities, even after the abatement."

Obviously there is something wrong with our local tax structure if, even after granting a 90 percent property tax abatement, a business owner's property taxes are higher than other communities. Perhaps we should be making an effort to abate property taxes for all of the small business owners in Lawrence who are not able to enjoy the privileges of an abatement and who pay property taxes that far exceed their counterparts elsewhere.

Chris Miller,



Richard Heckler 12 years, 4 months ago

Good point to bring up for discussion. Homeowners also get to make up the difference. Because Packer has been in Lawrence for several years I was able to swallow this decision.

It's likely time for small business owners and homeowners to come together on this issue. Perhaps a coalition to keep tabs would be helpful. Neither small business nor home owners should be expected to make up the difference.

Mr. Miller you will need to show up downtown with a group. I am amazed at how quiet small business is on these matters.

Lowell Holmes 12 years, 4 months ago

It is quite possible that he was lying. Remember in the first artcle discussing the abatement he stated that Berry had several other locations that were candidates for the expansion but refused to name them. I wonder why that was? It couldn't be because he didn't want anyone checking the validity of his statement could it?If the LJW were a true newspaper they could find out where Berry had plants and if they were indeed candidates for expansion, then find out what the taxes in those locations were. Corporations like Berry like to extort abatements fron cities by threatening to take their business elsewhere, even when the threat isn't real but most cities won't investigate such claims because they are too afraid they will lose the business.

Jamesaust 12 years, 4 months ago

"property taxes would still be higher in Lawrence than in other communities, even after the abatement"

I believe the point is that other communities would have abated even more - precisely why Douglas Co. should not get into a bidding war for a business without any obvious attraction for this community. If public monies were not wasted here, how much more would be available as incentives to companies that did provide the type of employment the public says that want to attract. Jesus may have fed the multitudes with a few fish but the public has a limited pot of money.

It is for this reason (not the nonsensical economic theory) that I support efforts to require subsidized businesses to pay "living wages." Such a policy would have prevented this absurd subsidy to this out of place employer. High wage employers, whether corporate offices, automakers in South Carolina, or high tech workers in Idaho, produce in addition to each employee four or five additional jobs in the community. Other than food on the table and a roof over the bed for these few employees, what further benefits does this company bring to Douglas Co.? NONE

Lowell Holmes 12 years, 4 months ago

I know that there are Berry facilities all over, what I meant was that he seemed to be implying that these other communities were willing to offer deals beter than or equal to Lawrence. And you do bring up a good point, they made the threat of taking what jobs were here already and moving them elseswhere. Just because the commision caved in hasnt eliminated that threat. Next time Berry wants something they will use it again. And before you say they didnt make that threat, reread that article. While the rep didnt say it directly he implied it and it was quite obvious what he meant.

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