Background of Position
As a result of the passage of Proposal A in 1994, and its effects upon school finance and local property taxes, the League of Women Voters of the Holland Area decided in 1995 to revisit its 1991 study on tax abatements. In that study, the LWV recommended that the state take a larger role in offering incentives to encourage industries to locate or remain in Michigan. Since that time, school operating levies have been reduced for businesses, property tax increases have been capped, unemployment insurance taxes have been cut, the Michigan Economic Growth Authority has been created, the Michigan Strategic Fund offers state approved bond issues to companies, and the Renaissance Zone Act has been enacted.
We believe municipal and township governments in the Holland area should:
- Elicit more public involvement and input in the P.A. 198 grant approval process and look at the future impact of grants and cost/benefit issues. Infrastructure and social costs, rapid growth in residential development, and sudden increases in school enrollments pose challenges for citizens who are concerned about controlling growth in the Holland area.
- Continue to look at the quality of tax abatements to determine whether they meet municipal guidelines (e.g., to increase the average income level through promotion of higher paying jobs and to promote more skilled and technical jobs).
- Grant maximum exemption periods for renovated or rehabilitated property, shorter exemption periods for new buildings, and still shorter exemption periods for tax abatements for machinery and equipment.
- Periodically monitor or require reports from recipients of tax abatements throughout the exemption period to determine whether companies have substantially complied with terms of their applications or agreements regarding number of persons employed, employee wages, and business investment.
- Request municipal and township representatives to the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council to consider setting area-wide guidelines regarding the granting and implementing of tax abatements with a view to the economic and social health of the region as a whole.