In this case, a tax abatement is justified

The city council can’t seem to make a hard decision on a proposed tax abatement deal that, if approved, would lead to a major re-development.
The council either keeps putting off the issue, or can’t even get a quorum to settle the matter. We won’t get into the debacle of Tuesday’s council meeting that is now null and void.
Maybe it’s dawning on some of the councilmembers and mayor that, at times, they will have to make difficult decisions – decisions that some will like and others will strongly oppose.
That’s the price of holding public office.
Back to the issue at hand: Tax abatements and Hamtramck have not always worked out for the best.
So, when the owner of the former Missant site recently proposed the abatement request, it opened up old wounds.
But, unlike other requests of this nature, this one is asking to have the current property taxes frozen for 10 years — as opposed to the usual request for a 50-percent reduction in property taxes for 10 or more years.
The site generates $60,000 in property taxes, of which the city receives about $19,000.
We’re not talking about a great sum of money here.
What the city gets in exchange is a major redevelopment of the site, where there are environmental issues as well from when plastic auto parts were manufactured there.
Once the abatement period comes to an end, then the city can reappraise the site and they likely will adjust the tax value upwards.
If the city declines to grant the request, all we continue to get is the $60,000 a year in property taxes.
The question is: do we trust the owner of the property to live up to the promise of development?
It seems to us that saying “no” and then continuing to receive relatively little money in taxes doesn’t make sense.
We know this is an unpopular decision, but it’s in the best interests of the city to grant the request and, thereby, welcome future development.
And while the city council continues to bungle getting to a vote on the matter, it would be wise if they and the mayor actually read the city charter to find out what constitutes an actual quorum to hold a council meeting to vote on this matter.
To the mayor and council: It’s time to get serious about your roles or, if you can’t stand the heat, let someone else take your place.
Posted September 16, 2022

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