Letter to the Editor,
Have you ever noticed that the people who say “it’s just progress” when discussing warehouse districts being forced into residential areas are either politicians trying to impress big business to get campaign donations, or big business that is keeping the politicians greased with cash, big salaries and/or other perks?
Either way it’s the Johnson County taxpayer that gets the shaft every time a warehouse is built with the 100 percent property tax abatements granted by The City of Edgerton. Edgerton and NorthPoint are eager to tell us about the jobs and other benefits that their projects provide and they even have the gall to tell us that the projects generate tax revenue for the county. In reality, the Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) that Edgerton grants to these developments waive 100 percent of property and sales tax for 10 years. In return, the usual tax is replaced by payments in lieu of taxes ranging from $.05-$.16 per sq/ft. To put that in perspective, at that rate the tax on a 2,000 sq/ft home would be $100 to $320 per year. A small fraction of what homeowners in the county actually pay. What’s worse is that the payments made in lieu of taxes go directly to an infrastructure fund that is earmarked to pay for road improvements to increase the value of the warehouses rather than going to the city or county?
The theory behind tax abatements is that the structure draws developments to the area that will generate tax revenue in the future. In reality, the residents of Johnson County pay much more in taxes as a result of these arrangements. Adding insult to injury, Edgerton has the power to unilaterally waive taxes for the new developments which leaves most of us who are paying the tax bill without a voice since we don’t get to vote in Edgerton elections. They are giving NorthPoint a free pass on taxes and the rest of us have to make up the difference.
Think of it this way. You regularly go out to dinner with a group of people and always split the bill evenly at the end of the evening. One evening a member of your group shows up with ten additional people and tells them to order the most expensive thing on the menu and the other members of the group will cover the tab. When the bill comes, the tab is split evenly among the members of the original group even though it is significantly higher due to the huge meals ordered by the additional ten people. In that case, NorthPoint is the extra ten people, Edgerton is the friend that brought them and the rest of us make up the group left to pay the tab.
The tax revenue that these developments might contribute years from now is all theoretical, based on a number of far-fetched assumptions. Until that theory plays out, the rest of are paying and will continue to pay higher and higher property tax bills as a result.