Archive for Thursday, September 30, 2010

Commission anticipates tax abatement request

September 30, 2010


Douglas County commissioners said they weren’t ready to set any kind of policies on who should receive tax abatements — even as they prepare for a request from Berry Plastics.

Douglas County hasn’t granted a property tax abatement in over three decades. But that could change within the next month as Berry Plastics is expected to request a 10-year property tax abatement for a $21 million warehouse project.

A development group headed by Lawrence businessman Thomas Fritzel has submitted plans to rezone 60 acres west of the Lecompton turnpike interchange to allow for a 600,000-square-foot warehouse. If approved, the facility is expected to be the largest building in the county. It would not be on the city of Lawrence’s tax rolls.

No formal request has been made by Berry Plastics, but Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug told the commissioners Wednesday night that they need to start considering what alternatives they would have to process such a request.

The county did not discuss what percentage of taxes would be abated or what conditions would fall under the abatement.

By not having a policy in place, the county can’t offer a constitutional tax abatement and could only provide a tax abatement if industrial revenue bonds were issued.

Roger Zalneraitis, economic development coordinator and planner for the city of Lawrence, said using industrial revenue bonds takes more time and comes with higher costs.

Historically Douglas County has avoided having a policy in place because it didn’t want to encourage industrial growth outside the city limits. That philosophy could be changing.

Commissioners agreed that they might want to have a tax abatement policy in place, but they didn’t think they would have the time to create one before Berry Plastics made its request.

The company has been awarded federal stimulus bonds to help finance the warehouse, but the project needs to be progressing by the end of the year for the company to keep those low-interest bonds.

“Adopting a significant comprehensive policy sends a signal to the world. This needs more time, more study than we could give it,” Commissioner Jim Flory said.


Julie Jacob 7 years, 5 months ago

NO Abatement! This company is already getting Federal dollars and recent articles suggest the development will only provide 21 permanent jobs.

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 5 months ago

I thought tax abatements are generally used to entice a company to locate here. Berry Plastics is already here and since they have received federal stimulus money, why would they need any more help. And Fritzel is not a poor man.

deec 7 years, 5 months ago

Packer has always had tax abatements from the city. Since this facility is outside the city limits, and thus they can no longer feed at the city's teat, they are going after the county. A simple L J W search of the topic "Packer Tax Abatement" gives 52 results. I believe 1989 may be the earliest date which is archived online, but I recall debates regarding abatements for this company throughout the '80s as well.

somebodynew 7 years, 5 months ago

Let's see - - Berry wants tax abatements after stimulus money; Fritzel says: Don't annex the property into the city (no city taxes), BUT have the City provide extra water to the rural district AND provide Fire Protection.

I guess at lteast they are sharing the no money for anyone around (except for themselves). And I agree with two others - abatements are meant to bring companys here to create jobs. This place is already here and will only provide about 20 jobs. Lots to gain for their part, not much for anyone else.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 5 months ago

The LJW editorial a week or so ago said it was 11 permanent jobs.

hipper_than_hip 7 years, 5 months ago

If you want to participate in the process, email the county commissioners and tell them what you think.

Bob Forer 7 years, 5 months ago

With or without the abatement, sounds like its gonna be built. Abatements are designed as incentives. No need to entice these folks, as their plans are already well progressed. Kinda like "Why bribe an official if he'll do it for free?" Abatement request should be denied.

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