City does a tax abatement redo

August 12, 2011
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City commissioners had to reapprove 10 industrial tax exemptions they had approved earlier to meet a contractual mandate from the state Treasury. The Treasury’s exemption division insisted that a clause that limits the value of the exemptions be inserted into each of the previously approved abatement agreements.

Here is the clause: “Whereas, the aggregate SEV of real and personal property exempt from ad valorem taxes within the city of Grand Rapids, after granting this certificate, will not exceed 5 percent of an amount equal to the sum of the SEV of the unit, plus the SEV of personal and real property thus exempted.”

“The state has notified the city that if these resolutions are not amended as described, each application will be dismissed and filed as incomplete,” said Kara Wood, city economic development director.

Here are the 10 industrial tax exemptions, along with each investment, that commissioners reapproved last week: Hearthside Food Solutions LLC ($3 million), Atomic Object LLC ($145,000), Autodie LLC ($23.9 million), Controlled Plating Technologies ($160,252), Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing ($4.4 million), Harmony Brewing Co. LLC ($291,897), Knape & Vogt Manufacturing Co. ($3.5 million), Van’s Pattern Corp. ($425,000), Thierica Inc. ($661,000), and Able Manufacturing ($60,000).

The exemptions are expected to be worth a total of $36.5 million in investments. Nine of the 10 exemptions will last for 12 years after the projects are completed, while the abatement for Atomic Object is good for five years.

Commissioners are likely to agree next week to amend an ordinance that regulates operations on Lyon Square, a street that runs between the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and DeVos Place west from Monroe Avenue to the Grand River. The change will allow for valet parking to be offered along the square for two of the hotel’s restaurants.

“This is what we think is a minor change,” said Deputy City Manager Eric DeLong.

“We want to assist businesses downtown,” added Commissioner Walt Gutowski, following a preview of next week’s scheduled vote on the ordinance change.

City Information Technology Director Paul Klimas led another preview last week, when he unveiled a revamped version of the city’s website.

“The beta website is built on the city’s next-generation Web platform, which provides a launch pad for new features and technologies designed to provide additional services to residents at lower cost while increasing government transparency.”

The beta website,, reportedly offers an improved search experience and better mobile Web experience, an e-mail alert of news and emergencies, community calendars, and support for social networks.

“The preview builds on what we’ve learned during the past decade from residents about what they want their city’s website to provide in the way of content and features,” said Klimas, who added the site offers 4,000 pages of content and 80,000 items.

“The emphasis is on search. It will reduce the amount of time for a search,” said Tom Donaldson, project coordinator for CPR, the firm assisting the city. “It’s a blend of what we had previously and the new.”

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