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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Flawed tax break

September 16, 2013

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To the editor:

The City Commission recently agreed to grant 50 percent tax abatement for ten years to a company investing $1.1 million to buy an existing building and producing one new job in 2014 paying $12.50 per hour. For previous tax abatements, companies normally produce a new asset which results in at least some increase in the tax base, but not this time. We actually decreased the tax base because 100 percent of property taxes were being paid on the building. Unlike previous tax abatements where the focus is on the immediate impact, commissioners focused on the fact that the company estimates that it will produce 39 more jobs and invest $1.2 million during the 10-year period, with $1 million of that not until the ninth year. 

This request violated three thresholds used when granting abatements, but commissioners seem to feel obligated to subsidize businesses that have been in the incubator and also wanted to help a small profitable business faced with having to pay normal operating expenses similar to those incurred by all small businesses.

Commissioners also ignored the fact that an abatement was granted for this building when built in the 1990s by a company who promised to create 30 new jobs, but unfortunately stayed in business around five years.

During the public hearing, the applicant was given unlimited time to speak while two individuals opposed to the abatement were restricted to four minutes each. The applicant was also allowed to speak a second time. 

The commissioners apparently do not want public input especially from those opposed to what they plan to do.

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