Editorial: GM Tax Break will Bankrupt Communities

Last week we reported that GM is seeking an 80 percent reduction on the property taxes it pays on the Poletown Plant.

Hamtramck receives about $2 million a year from the plant in a complicated formula it shares with Detroit that results in a sliding amount of money received each year.

Some years Hamtramck collects more, some years less.

No matter how you slice the financial pie, though, Hamtramck cannot afford to lose a substantial amount of money from the plant. The state’s Tax Tribunal Commission will hear GM’s appeal, which means anything can happen.

GM is seeking similar reductions from over 80 communities. We’re sure all of the communities are in the same boat as Hamtramck: none can afford to lose tax money.

It seems odd that we taxpayers are footing the financial bill to bailout GM and now, if GM succeeds, we will be paying again. A small city like Hamtramck would fall into bankruptcy if we lose anywhere near $1 to $2 million in annual revenue. There is simply no where to cut to make up the difference and there are no other revenues to tap into.

Of course we all want GM to succeed as a company and recover from its current financial mess. But doing it on the backs of communities and ultimately taxpayers is not the way to accomplish that goal.

GM hopes to sell a lot of cars down the road. If it bankrupts communities and lays off thousands of workers, guess what? No one will be able to afford to purchase a GM car.

We didn’t get GM into the financial trouble it’s in now and we certainly don’t deserve to be dragged down with the company.

All of this underscores that congress and the president have to figure out a way to bailout all of the communities, which includes coming up with a health coverage plan that lifts the financial responsibility away from cities and companies.

That single act would go a long way in allowing communities and businesses to survive.

By Charles Sercombe

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