Archive for Thursday, June 4, 2009

Commission talks development

June 4, 2009

The Leavenworth County Commission is looking for ways to increase the county tax base and lessen the burden on property owners.

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 to draw business 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 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. “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.”

The policy has a table, taken from Miami County, of 10 different levels of tax exemptions and incentives.

In the initial version of the policy, the number of years a company would receive the exemption would be determined by its capital investment in the county and how many jobs it creates. At level one, a company willing to make a capital investment of $100,000 to $200,000 and five to 20 jobs created 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.

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

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

Morgan took that 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.

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

Tellefson said the language should be changed to reflect urban growth 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 part of section 6 of the policy. The section did not say retail establishments could get an exemption. 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 it was not the commissioners’ intent to exclude retail, and they would look closer at that section.

Discussion on the policy was tabled until the June 22 commission meeting to give City Counselor David Van Parys and commissioners more time to look at the document.

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