Banking & Finance, Economic Development, and Government

City ends a trio of industrial tax abatements

One company is no longer operating, while the other invests more.

January 11, 2013
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Grand Rapids city commissioners terminated three industrial tax-exemption certificates last week. One belonged to a business owned by a current commissioner. The other business, which was awarded two of the certificates, has ceased operations.

Commissioners approved two tax breaks for Peninsula Fire Protection Inc. at 696 and 700 Plymouth Ave. NE in 2001. Peninsula Fire Protection planned to invest $460,000 into its facilities and an additional $95,000 into new equipment. One certificate would have cut the firm’s real-property taxes in half for its rehab project, while the other would have reduced its personal-property tax for its equipment purchase by the same percentage. But the city learned that the company is no longer operating.

“The certificates are being terminated due to the fact the company has gone out of business and the property has been foreclosed upon and its assets liquidated at auction,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director.

According to county records, the properties were foreclosed on last April. The Special Services Asset Management Co., which helps banks sell foreclosed properties, is marketing both sites. The State Equalized Values for both sites totaled $249,400 in 2012.

Peninsula Fire Protection provided fire-suppression systems for the commercial and residential markets.

Commissioners also terminated a 2006 exemption the city awarded to Swift Printing Co., 440 Bridge St. NW, a business owned by City Commissioner Walt Gutowski. About seven years ago, Swift Printing bought what was then a state-of-the-art digital printer from Xerox.

But since then, the firm has upgraded its printer through a new lease with Xerox, and the agreement has Xerox paying the personal-property taxes on the new digital printing press.

“Commissioner Gutowski asked for this to be terminated. Under the current agreement, they are not eligible for a certificate,” said Wood.

In the 2006 exemption request, Swift Printing promised to invest $440,000 to buy the press, retain six employees and create two new positions.

“The company has fulfilled those commitments. Today, Swift has nine employees and the value of their current investment is nearly $1 million. No employees will be displaced as a result of this business decision,” said Wood.

“He met all the requirements,” said Commissioner Dave Schaffer of Gutowski’s exemption.

The city will now forward the three terminated certificates to the state Tax Commission.

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