County clears way for zone extensions

November 20, 2008
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Grand Rapids city commissioners will vote on extending the Renaissance Zone status for three properties on Tuesday now that Kent County Commissioners unanimously authorized an agreement on Thursday morning with the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The pact calls for the city’s EDC to refund the property-tax and millage revenue the county will annually lose from extending the nearly-tax free status of those parcels, as city commissioners are all but certain to approve the extensions next week.

But the city will only have to reimburse the county those tax dollars for the years that the total amount of tax revenue the city abates and exempts exceeds 10 percent of its total tax roll. Once the city falls below the county’s 10-percent threshold, the refunds stop.

The city currently abates and exempts 12.3 percent of its tax roll. But City Manager Kurt Kimball said earlier this fall the city would drop below 10 percent in two years.

City Economic Development Director Kara Wood told the Business Journal that True North Architecture, Construction and Investment, Via Design and Wealthy Street Historical Development LLC still propose to develop the properties, which have been in the Ren Zone since 1997. The zone’s current tax benefit, which exempts most state and local taxes, expires at the end of 2011.

Wood said the extensions are good for 12 years. But with three years of partial exemption left in the current zone, from 2009 through 2011, the sites will get 15 years of some sort of tax relief. Wood also said the county’s total tax millage on all three properties was $750 this tax year.

The state will also have to ratify the three time extensions, if city commissioners approve the requests. Wood said next Wednesday is the deadline to get the extension applications to the state in order for the requests to go into effect in 2009.

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