Clanton City Council considers tax abatements for businesses

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Clanton’s City Council considered two tax abatements for local businesses during its meeting Monday.

The council approved an abatement for Merchants Foodservice after being told the business, which has operated since 2000, plans to expand its facility by 66,000 square feet and hire 55 new employees.

The council unanimously approved a three-year abatement on the purchase of new materials and a 10-year abatement on the difference in property tax between the facility’s current value and its future value.

Councilman Greg DeJarnett was absent from the meeting.

The council did not approve an amended abatement requested by Johnson Controls as part of an arrangement for the business to pay taxes owed.

At question was $962,000 in taxes owed by JCI. Officials at the meeting said the mistake was realized in an audit completed after the operation was sold by CRH.

The officials said the business would be willing to pay the amount owed if the council would be willing to amend an existing abatement, to make it more in line with the actual amount the company has invested in the plant and community.

Council members expressed concern that the arrangement would cause less tax to be collected in future years.

Councilman Sammy Wilson moved to deny the proposal. Councilman Jeff Price voted in favor, while Driver and Councilman Bobby Cook voted against and Councilwoman Mary Mell Smith abstained.

Look for more information about the situation in upcoming editions of The Clanton Advertiser.

In other business, the council:

•Heard from Paul Dickerson with West End Neighborhood Watch, who asked about the progress of two projects planned for the community: additions to the E.M. Henry Park playground and the installation of a storm shelter in the area. Mayor Billy Joe Driver said bids for playground equipment should be opened July 7 and that the storm shelter was still awaiting approval.

•Approved the hires of receptionist Anna Harrison and city shop secretary Karen Porter.

•Approved adding four reserve police officers to the city’s worker’s compensation plan. The reserve officers are Joy Killingsworth, Brian Easterling, Beau Battaglia and Jordan Collins.

•Amended an ordinance on the city’s group health insurance to create a 90-day probation period for new hires. After the probation period, the employees would be added to the insurance. The council suspended the rules to bring on the matter for immediate consideration.

•Approved paying appropriate bills.

•Approved minutes from the June 8 meeting.