Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Fort Wayne Council Failed To Properly Revoke Tax Abatements

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reports that the public was misled when it was told this summer that the city council for the first time had revoked tax abatements for twelve companies that had failed to live up to the job creation commitments it made when the tax abatements were first granted. It turns out that because the council didn't follow the process set out in state statute, the companies continued receiving their tax abatements.
In July, when the council was to do its annual approval of the list of abatements so the companies could take the deduction on their property taxes, members removed about a dozen from the list because they were not in compliance, having either not filed their paperwork or not met their obligations for investments or job creation.
Unfortunately, council attorney Joe Bonahoom said, simply not approving them was not enough, because state law requires the council to take action in finding the companies non-compliant and give them 45 days to address the issue.
“When you omitted them from the list of approvals, you essentially took no action,” Bonahoom said. “Statutorily, by taking no action, we approved them.”
So for the most part, the tax breaks will continue. But Bonahoom said the companies are now on notice that if they are not in compliance next year, the city will take active steps to remove the tax phase-in.
According to the Journal-Gazette, the council voted yesterday to approve abatements for 12 projects it thought it had discontinued in July and approved a new 7-year tax abatement for another company. At-large council member John Crawford, a critic of tax abatements, told the Journal-Gazette that it proved the city never intended to force the companies to live up to their promises. Meanwhile, all Allen County taxpayers started paying higher income taxes this month so the city could continue passing out tax abatements and public subsidies to favored taxpayers.

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