When Autocam offered to bring 200 jobs to Kentwood, city leaders saw an excellent opportunity.
With all the vacant industrial space in our city, the Kentwood City Commission embraced the idea of bringing in new jobs for the folks of Kentwood and surrounding areas. Autocam sought a tax abatement from the City so they could get started. It's a good deal for the City, given that the alternative - leaving the industrial space vacant - would have resulted in the same amount of tax revenue for the next couple years but without the jobs (though the City would receive new revenue in a few years; more on that later).
So Kentwood City Commissioners voted 6-1 to offer Autocam the abatement.
The one exception? Commissioner/Tea Party activist/Republican precinct delegate/twice-convicted felon Ray VerWys.
He said abatements are no different from “the targeted tax breaks handed down in Lansing” and that giving tax breaks to some only shifts the tax burden onto others. “We cannot afford to give up this kind of money,” said VerWys.And in just a couple sentences, VerWys both slams the successful state tax breaks instituted under then-Gov. Granholm, while at the same time demonstrating a lack of knowledge about tax abatements and their benefits. So let me explain.
See, here in Kentwood (and in other places), the City Commission is authorized to give tax abatements to businsses that are starting up in Kentwood. This is meant to help with their start-up costs; the idea being that while they will still be responsible for their fair share of the tax burden in a few years, the City will do what it can to help them get started by not letting tax burdens prevent companies from creating jobs.
In the Autocam situation, it makes perfect sense. Without the abatement: (a) the empty industrial space would have remained empty; (b) no jobs would have been created; and (c) the city would get no additional revenue from the project.
But since the abatement was approved: (a) the industrial space will be occupied; (b) 200 jobs will be created; (c) the city will get new, direct revenue starting in a few years; (d) these new jobs will help families avoid foreclosures, meaning the City continues to earn revenue from their property taxes; and (e) the local economy will get a boost from their spending, meaning more jobs and more businesses saved (and again, keeping revenue for the City).
To hear VerWys say it, you'd think this is actually costing the City money. What would have cost the City is if VerWys had his way.
Which, thankfully for 200 West Michigan families, he did not.
Stay tuned as I keep track of how many jobs VerWys opposes for the remaining three years of his term.