Commission approves tax abatement for Town Plaza project

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Cape Girardeau County Commission voted unanimously to approve the execution of the Greater Missouri Builders Development Agreement Thursday.

The agreement includes full property tax abatement for new improvements to the old Sears Building and 50-percent property tax abatement for the Sears site for the next 10 years. This includes an additional self-imposed sales tax of one percent on goods and services within the Plaza Center, or Community Improvement District, to pay for improvements within the district and will expire when debt obligations are satisfied.

Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner Gerald Jones said although most of the commission's business is with the county, the commission invests substantially in city industry as well.

"We've been involved with developers' agreements in Cape Girardeau that allowed Kohl's and Sears Grand," said Jones, "so this certainly is nothing new."

According to Commissioner Jay Purcell, the total cost to the county is approximately $171,000, which will be made back. After renovations, the old Sears building, now National Asset Recovery Service, is expected to employ 400 to 500 people.

"It's really a plus all the way around because it doesn't affect what we already collect and adds 500 jobs in the county," said Jones. "And in addition, those people with new jobs might spend their money in Cape County."

Some were not so positive about the idea, however.

"We have better places to spend our county money," said Ralph Fehr of Jackson. "Let the City of Cape find a way to do it themselves. Cape County should stay out of it."

"When the county starts remodeling private businesses when do you draw the line," said Debora Lintner of Jackson. "There are plenty of other businesses that want to improve but they try to do it with their own money, and that's how it should be."

Purcell said that, overwhelmingly, the county's funds come from sales tax money and in passing the ordinance Cape Girardeau County would be partnering in new money in return for 500 jobs, not losing money of any kind.

"What are the rewards to the people," said J. Pat Wissman of Cape Girardeau. "Seems like the only rewards are to the Greater Missouri Builders company. Tax money should be spent on the people."

Commissioner Larry Bock said that whenever the county helps the people, most of the time it is through businesses.

"Any kind of help the county gives it's all private business," said Bock. "It all boils down to jobs, and here we've got 500 of them."

jsamons@semissourian.com

(573) 335-6611 extension 245

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