TAX ABATEMENT – NOT FOR FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS ANY MORE

I don’t get it. Why was Mitch Harper the only one who questioned the propriety of the tax abatement given to the new Harrison Square condo owners and had the wherewithal to vote against the proposal? Why would buyers who can afford the condos need a tax abatement?

I have always supported Harrison Square, but this goes too far. Councilman Pape mentioned that we need to be sure we can draw new development to the downtown. Pardon me, but I thought the condos had already been purchased. I also thought we were well on our way to building Harrison Square. Sounds to me like development is already being created.

Why would City Council need to give an abatement after the fact? Did the purchasers agree to buy the condos with the understanding that a tax abatement was in the air? Or am I missing something here?

First, Council provided tax abatements to such illustrious businesses as fast food restaurants which pay paltry wages and do not do much for the community, and now, it appears that certain lucky private property owners will get the benefit of a tax abatement. Okay – where is my abatement? Why shouldn’t I have the benefit of a 10-year abatement?

The following YouTube video is of Councilman Harper explaining why he voted against the tax abatement. And, you know what, he makes perfect sense.

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne City Council, Government, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to TAX ABATEMENT – NOT FOR FAST FOOD RESTAURANTS ANY MORE

  1. Tax abatements are used in Fort Wayne to move jobs from one part of the City to another. These tax abatements will not create a single high paying job…

    Mike Sylvester

  2. Kevin Knuth says:

    The condos HAVE NOT been sold. Several have REFUNDABLE deposits on them. The project is not to the point where they can actually “sell” anything.

    Mike is correct in that these abatements will most likely NOT DIRECTLY create a single high paying job. (although that could be incorrect- we do not know who the retail tenants will be yet- and we have to define “high paying” too.)

    But I believe Harrison Square is the beginning of something big- that will create AND retain several high paying jobs in Fort Wayne.

  3. The following is what I see as unfair:

    “This means owners of the to-be-built dwellings will not only get a residential homestead credit but a 10-year tax abatement as well. The developer will keep the abatement for the retail portion of the structure.”

    What criteria were placed on the refundable deposits? I find it hard to believe that the city would simply say to the potential purchasers, “Here, sign on the dotted line, and pay a $1,000 deposit which you can get back anytime without providing a reason.” That would not be good business. I would assume there were some “strings” attached to the refundability of the deposit. And, I am curious about are those strings.

    Any way you slice it, a double tax break smacks of unfairness. Let’s say, for example, that someone comes along and wants to buy the grand blue house at 802-804 W. Washington. Would they get a tax abatement for investing in renovating the house? After all, it will enhance the neighborhood which will ultimately draw more buyers and businesses to locate in West Central.

    The tax abatement was a bad idea, and, most of all, it is a slap in the face to those of us who are facing increases in property taxes as well as an increase in sales tax.

  4. Phil Marx says:

    Charlotte,

    When the City held it’s public forum on H.S. in March 2007, I believe the people were fairly evenly divided. About a third were against it, almost regardless of any of the particular details. A third were for it, just as firmly as those against it. Then there was the middle group. These were the ones who said “It sounds interesting, but I have a few questions.”

    I started in the middle group, and voiced my opinion at that forum. By the Summer of 2007, the city had convinced me that they had no intention of revealing the full details, and that is why I stood against it.

    Now, with the abatements for Subway and the condominiums, the city is showing that the total cost for this project truely is a work in progress. This is something that I had publicly speculated about because of their lack of full disclosure before the election. Now that they have a four-year pass, I think they are tiring of putting up the facade. They will have their H.S., and the total cost is irrelevant.

  5. Phil:

    I still do support Harrison Square. I am one of those who supported it from the beginning and still do. Having said that, I am not going to blindly support every item that goes with it.

    I am not the most learned person on TIFs, tax abatements, etc. But I do have a sense of when something seems to be unfair. The tax abatements were bad enough for the fast-food restaurants, but I really believe the double tax break for those who are well off enough to purchase a Harrison Square condo is simply unfair to the rest of us who are struggling to make ends meet and to pay our property taxes.

    Apparently, the purchasers will receive the Homestead credit. That is all I get, no more, no less. Why should the new buyers receive something above and beyond something the ordinary citizen does not receive in relationship to his or her home?

  6. M Badgett says:

    We have Residential Improvement Zones throughout the city and I am 100% sure West Central is one, so the short answer as to the Washington Street question is that yes, should someone wish to improve the property they would be eligible for a tax abatement (I think residential ones are 5 years). I don’t know enough about this particular plan yet to make an evaluation. In theory though, I am not opposed as it is a tool used in neighborhoods throughout the city. I especially like that the abatement will be passed on to homeowners instead of the developer

  7. M. Badgett:

    Thank you for the info. I looked up the RIZ on the City’s website and have inserted it below:
    _______________________________________________________________________________________________
    A property is eligible for the RIZ tax abatement If:

    1. It is a residential property located within a Residential Investment Zone as designated by City Council and illustrated on a map available in the City’s Land Use Planning office or by icon CLICKING HERE (MAP); and

    2. The improvements increase the true tax value as determined by the County or Township Assessor’s Office; and

    3. The improvements meet all applicable building codes and zoning requirements and all necessary permits have been obtained; and

    4. The property is not located within the 100-year flood plain as illustrated on maps available in the Land Use Planning office.

    The following improvements typically increase true tax value:

    1. Room additions that add square footage to an existing structure; or

    2. Expanding or replacing a garage; or

    3. Converting unfinished space to living space (attic, basement, garage); or

    4. Additional bathrooms or plumbing fixtures; or

    5. Air conditioning; or

    6. A new deck or patio

    According to the Allen County Assessor’s office, the following improvements will not increase true tax value:

    1. A new or repaired roof

    2. New paint

    3. New windows or storm windows

    4. A new fence

    5. Interior remodeling that does not add living space

    6. Gutter repair or replacement

    The property owner must apply for property tax abatement with the Allen County Auditor’s Office, which is located on the first floor of the City-County building at 1 E. Main St. Fort Wayne, IN. The Auditor will review the application and will abate qualified increases in true tax value for five years. A complete application includes a “notice of reassessment” which is sent to property owners by March 1st of the year that the first taxes on the improvement are due. For example, if an addition is completed by March 1st of 2007, the notice will be sent out early in 2008. The property owner should apply for abatement within 30 days of receiving the notice of reassessment.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________

    If I am reading this correctly, most improvements that we do to the older homes in West Central would probably not fall into the category that would receive an abatement. The 802-804 West Washington house is already divided into living spaces. It may qualify if something like air conditioning or converting the 1/2 attic that is currently not living space into living space.

  8. M Badgett says:

    My answer wasn’t meant to be snarky and my point wasn’t to argue about a specific property. The list is what they describe as typical projects but the condition is anything that increases the value of the property thus affecting the property tax. Not long ago, there was a HANDS program in West Central designed for landlords to improve their property, and 50% of the cost of those improvements were matched with grants funds and forgiven for those who kept the property for 5 years. I don’t know if they still offer it or not. If you think about it, those who least needed help were the ones to most benefit. It was a one time only situation and after the city inspected the property, they made a list of recommended improvements/repairs. Anything on the list was able to be replaced/repaired (all or pick and choose) but the property owner had to put up their half and follow some guidelines (grant match originated with Fed funds). Those with adequate resources were able to do substantial improvements while those without adequate resources were not. I am not complaining about the program because I believed in what they were doing! We should be protecting our existing and or historical housing stock and I have no problem designing programs to acheive that goal. I also don’t have a problem with programs designed to spur economic development and street level activity in our downtown core.
    I really think that there are strong economic as well as social reasons to preserve our downtown. As to this particular abatement; the details haven’t been worked out so I really don’t know what to think. My gut tells me that even with the abatement, revenues on 60 condos plus the retail etc… is going to exceed what the same space previously produced.

    Sorry for getting carried away and somewhat off-topic Charlotte, love the blog but just haven’t posted before.

  9. Heavens – I didn’t take your entry as snarky. I know we in West Central have discussed these programs before at our West Central meetings. I am on the board of directors and secretary, so we have also discussed programs at those meetings.

    I know I would love to make some improvements to my home, but I noticed that the most recent ones I made (storm windows and a storm door) do not qualify pursuant to the guidelines. I only put windows on 1/2 of my home plus the storm door this year because that was all I could afford. That cost me $2500. It would be great to get some type of help, especially since I see so many absentee landlords who put only the bare minimum in their properties and many times do not care what they look like as long as they collect the rent.

    I want my home to be beautiful – both inside and outside – but it takes a lot of money.

    I will definitely keep the RIZ in mind though if I get a new furnace and air conditioning this year.

    My point on the abatement is that the condo buyers are apparently getting a double break – the Homestead exemption and the abatement. I guess I see the condo buyers as willing purchasers who I thought did not need an incentive to buy a condo downtown. Many expressed that they had a desire to live downtown and now this provided them the opportunity.

    Thank you for the comment about my blog. I flooded the first week of February, so I have really fallen behind in posting – I guess I just didn’t have my mind on it. I hope to make March a better month.

    Please stop by anytime and comment.

  10. this vote brings up several germane topics.
    belmont beverage, located on harrison st, was closes to make room for the ballpark. yet, according to city code/tax abatmente guidleines, package beverage stores arent eligible for tax abatements( such as building the replacment belmont beverage store downtown)
    john kalb also made some salient points at the same meeting.
    a tax abatement, on a condo- bought from a developer- isnt that a residential tax abatment?
    so why dont other homeownere get residential tax abatemtnes? or landlords for improving their propertys?
    and what of accountability for the tax abatement program? it was noted in the meeting that many of the jobs to be created dont meet the living wage requirements written in city code.
    if we arent going to follow city code, whats the point in having one?
    the law is the law.
    and just before thatvote, the council granted tax abatements to a pair of local companies. I’ve watched enough city council meetings to know that they always “create dozens of jobs” and “millions of dollars in development”- oh? take the amounts, divide them out by jobs created, and its over a million per job. to be snarky- why not just give these employees a million each, they can retire, and never need to work the rest of their lives? i’ll take a million? abate me a job?
    and then when “the alliance” crows about all the “jobs created or retained”, it is merely cooking the books, from estimates, from these corporate welfare tax giveaways.
    at what wages and benefits? I sure dont see the evidence that we are getting our moneys worth from the alliance, or any other of these “economic gurus”. sure- they all get nice cushy desk jobs, and salries, benefits, but where is the success? why are so many people struggling to get by, if the outlook is rosy? or maybe they are all putting lipstick on a pig?
    and speaking of pigs- look for a long train of corporate “piglets” lining up at the tax abatemtnt trough, to suck up the public money, when and while the daniels tax-resturcturing plan goes into effect.
    so if we are all giving away property tax money to local businesses/corporations/retail/fastfood/factory/minimal wage/not living wage jobs, then where are the tax savings?
    how about some type of FDR CCC projects/WPA/ such as building more permanent flood control projects? or fixing the hosey dam at anthony blvd?
    or restoring the st joe dam hydroelectric plan? didnt hear of that one? the city is selling off the power pant generators- for the copper in the windings to henry recycling?
    theres so much to do, and we get the scraps, while the rich sing and dance.
    somethings got to change.
    and speaking of change-got change? brother can you spare a dime?

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