A 12-year, 50% tax abatement agreement with General Electric was approved unanimously by the Van Buren Township Board of Trustees at its July 6 regular meeting.
Although by the township’s regular grading system for abatements, GE would only rate an 11-year abatement, it was granted the full 12 years because it will be reoccupying office space vacated by Visteon, plus will add at least 275 new jobs.
Executive Assistant/Assessor Susan Ireland presented the Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate for New Equipment, noting that although GE plans to employ more than 1,000 people eventually, now the projections are set at a more reachable 275.
The abatement is on the $1.7 million new personal property GE is adding to building 40 and part of building 45 at the former Visteon Village, now called the Grace Lake Corporate Center.
GE is establishing its Advanced Manufacturing and Software Technology Center and will be GE’s largest population of technology professionals under one roof.
With the tax exemption, GE will pay about $11,200 in township taxes over the 12 years instead of $22,400. For all taxing jurisdictions (including Van Buren Township) GE will pay about $52,379.06 in total taxes instead of $104,758.
GE is expected to make an additional request for an abatement later for building 50 and the remainder of building 45. Due to time limits for filing an application, it is necessary to split the request into two applications, Ireland said.
The property is located in existing Industrial Development District #18, granted to Visteon on Oct. 16, 2001.
A GE representative said the company is fortunate to have the workforce in Michigan from which to draw. He said recently 500 job openings were posted and there were 48,000 applications, with most being Michigan residents.
Supervisor Paul White said he doesn’t like to give tax breaks to businesses, but if the township doesn’t compete in this way, it will lose out.
The GE representative said they picked Michigan out of 10 states for this new facility and the Grace Lake facility built by Visteon allows them to get up and running in a short time.
He said there are 350 employees now and plan to have 450 by the end of the year, increasing to 900 in 2011 and 1,000 in 2012.
“We will get half of what the tax would be instead of having empty buildings,” said Treasurer Sharry Budd.
Resident Reg Ion said he has a problem with tax abatements because the “big guys get it and other guys don’t.” He said that if the township denies the abatement, the company can appeal to the state and the state could override the township’s decision. He was advised that was correct.
“Any jobs are good jobs in Michigan,” Ion said.
In other business at the July 6 meeting, the board:
* Unanimously terminated the lawn mowing contract with Abraham Landscaping company for lack of performance and granted the contract for the remainder of the summer’s grass cutting to Michigan Lawn Management (Randy Brown) at the price he bid in the spring;
* Postponed action on contracting with Michigan Lawn to also do surplus grass cutting and related services for enforcement of the grass and weeds ordinance, to help Gonczy’s Property Maintenance, the hired contractor who got behind because of the rainy weather this spring. Trustee Philip Hart insisted Gonczy do the work at the bid price saying Gonczy could hire extra help, if he needed it. For property owners to get one fee if Gonczy cut the grass ($20 per ¼ acre) and another if Michigan Lawn did ($29.95) was unacceptable to Trustee Jeff Jahr, as well as Hart;
* Approved extending without penalty the collection of the 2010 Summer Property Taxes from the current deadline of Sept. 14 to Thursday, Sept. 30, 2010;
* Approved the job description for cable director and the personal services agreement with Aly McCracken for the position, moving her from a part-time independent contractor role to director at the same pay of $36,564. She did not qualify as an independent contractor under IRS rules because she didn’t have a separate office, didn’t have her own equipment, and didn’t pay her own employees, as required, said Supervisor Paul White;
* Approved unanimously support for the Wayne County Department of Public Services Application for Transportation Economic Development Funding. A project to reconstruct Ecorse Road from about 200’ west of the SB I-275 ramps to the NB I-275 ramps (coordinated with the reconstruction of the Ecorse Road bridge over I-275) was made eligible for MDOT TEDF-A funding due to the GE investment at the Grace Lake Corporate Center (formerly Visteon Village). This project, at a total cost of $2.25 million has a $1.8 million funding request and $450,000 in matching funds from Wayne County, would have a completion date of December 2012;
* Approved paying the voucher list which included a check for $7,877 to Empco, Inc. for assessment of public safety director candidates;
* Heard Director Bruce Ross announce that the Recreation Center is a cooling center and people are welcome to come to cool off from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and noon to 6 p.m. on weekends;
* Was advised that from 8 a.m. to noon on Aug. 14 is Free Shredding Day at the township hall parking lot, where Recall Corp. will accept five cartons or five medium size bags of documents to shred without charge. Details are on the township website;
* Heard Ion say that the sky blue paint on the new water tower blends in with the sky color and planes might hit it. DPW Director Todd Knepper said a base coat was put on the tower and the blue-tinted paint is the second coat. White paint will cover the blue (and they will be able to see where they missed painting) and the finished design will have bright blue rings at the top and bottom and the VBT logo on two sides.