County Alters Development Policy

October 23, 2008
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On a unanimous vote this morning, Kent County commissioners agreed to amend the county’s economic development participation policy. The move opens the door for board members to add their consent to three requests for Renaissance Zone time extensions in the city of Grand Rapids.

The change allows the county to OK these applications if a governmental unit that is capturing and exempting more than 10 percent of its total tax roll agrees to reimburse the county for the tax revenue it would lose from the request for as long as the unit stays above that threshold. Economic development efforts in Grand Rapids are capturing and exempting 12.3 percent of the city’s roll this year.

County commissioners established the policy in May 2007 because they felt the county was losing too much tax revenue to tax-increment financing authorities, industrial tax abatements and the Renaissance Zone. They have strictly adhered to their policy since its inception and have declined to participate in the last six TIFA requests, including the expansion of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority.

Public Act 116 of 2008 gives counties across the state the power to stop time extensions in Michigan’s nearly tax-free renaissance zones.

True North Architecture, Construction and Investments, Via Design and Wealthy Street Historical Development LLC have asked the city to add 12 more years to three separate properties that have been in the zone since 1997. But all three have said that without the extensions they would be hard pressed to go forward with their respective projects.

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