Archive for Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BOCC looks at tax incentives for new businesses

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

A World War I doughboy statue stands outside the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

June 3, 2009

The Board of County Commissioners is looking for ways to increase its tax base to lessen the burden of property taxes on the residents of the county.

Commissioners hope the new interchange at Interstate 70 and County Road 1 will help attract new businesses, but they are now looking at another way of drawing business and industry to the county.

On Monday, Heather Morgan, county administrator, presented the board with an initial draft of a comprehensive tax incentive policy for future businesses. She said that she took the tax incentive policy from Miami County and simplified it.

“I think it’s a good starting point for the county,” Morgan said during the meeting. “I don’t like to be put inside a box, but at least when a company comes to town looking for incentives or abatements we can say this is our starting point. I believe this policy gives the board some flexibility.”

The policy has a table of 10 different levels of tax exemptions and incentives that the board could use.

In the initial version of the policy, the number of years any given company would be given the exemption would be determined by the amount of capital investment in the county and how many jobs it creates. At level one, a company that is willing to make a capital investment of $100,000 to $200,000 as well as create five to 20 jobs can be given a one-year exemption. At level 10, a maximum of 10 years can be given to a company investing $7 million to $9 million and creating 301 to 450 jobs.

Morgan said that the table was taken directly from Miami County.

During the discussion, the a question came up about the county being able to provide some tax exemptions to a property that was inside the city limits of incorporated areas.

Section 7 of the abatement policy stated that the county could provide those exemptions “only as to property located within the county.”

Morgan took that language to mean only property in the unincorporated part of the county, but Commissioner J.C. Tellefson took it to mean that exemptions from the county could be granted in any property within the county limits.

County Counselor David Van Parys said he would need more time to look into the matter, but said a city could abate taxes on a property if it gets the consent of the county and of the school district in which the property is located.

The same section states that the county must consult with any city if the property is located within the three-mile growth area of the city.

Tellefson said that the language in the policy should be changed to reflect the urban growth management area already in the county’s comprehensive plan and not the three-mile area around any city.

Jim Washington, president of the Basehor City Council, was concerned with a portion of section 6 of the policy that did not mention that retail establishments could be a part of the policy and if that was the commission’s intent. Part F of that section states “‘Economic development purposes’ shall mean the establishment of a new business or the expansion of any existing business, engaged in manufacturing articles of commerce, conducting research and development, or storing goods or commodities which are sold or traded in interstate commerce, which results in additional employment.”

Commissioner John Flower told Washington that is not their intent to exclude retail and they would need to look closer at the language in that section.

“I think this is a very good start, but I need more time to dissect it,” Commissioner Clyde Graeber said.

The commissioners tabled the discussion on the policy until the June 22 commission meeting to give Van Parys and the commissioners more time to look at the document.

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