A proposal to repeal St. Joseph County’s controversial tax abatement ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and possible vote on Tuesday of next week (August 14th).
Some claim that the ordinance is doing more harm than good when it comes to job creation.
“They’ve had over 50 new businesses come in the State of Indiana since the beginning of the year, and not one has looked at St. Joseph County,” said the measure’s sponsor Councilman Dale DeVon.
DeVon’s repeal proposal was actually filed about a year and a half ago. It had been stalled in a council committee ever since. “It’s a divisive issue that stops businesses to come into St. Joseph County,” said Councilman DeVon, “If this is a great document, then where’s the business at?”
The document in question is a 35 page ordinance that sets minimum wages companies can pay employees and construction workers if they want to receive a maximum amount of tax breaks. “So the unions right now, with this document have 100 percent of the work coming into St. Joseph County, which is absolutely nothing,” said DeVon.
Councilman Mike Kruk says the current tax abatement ordinance is simply designed to be fair to both taxpayers, and companies seeking tax breaks. “You know there’s nothing in the ordinance that says you have to do anything with a union contractor or whatever, you do get extra points if you use a local contractor, if they’re employing local people you get more,” said Kruk.
Kruk questions the fairness of some of the criticism the tax abatement measure is getting. “And it’s just nothing based in facts; I’ve never heard any specific companies or names or anything like that.”
Councilman Kruk can recall three abatements that the council granted since the revised ordinance took effect.
One was granted to a company called Bright, that had a deal to build an electric car at AM General. The deal went bust when Bright went bankrupt.
A company called STRIPCO did receive a six year abatement to add seven new jobs to its plant in Penn Township.
The third was a personal property tax abatement for WBND TV which added new equipment to an existing building.
Critics suggest there are projects that did not take place in St. Joseph County because its ordinance is more complicated and restrictive than those in other counties.