Written by Mike Martin
After "unlawful, unfair" and "capricious" treatment, local government wants to go EE-Z on biz
COLUMBIA, 5/1/12 (Beat Byte) -- "3M has been an outstanding corporate citizen. But obviously things have changed." That was Boone County Assessor Tom Schauwecker insulting the company at a public meeting of the Boone County Board of Equalization in 2004.
He had launched the kind of withering attack on the local manufacturing giant no company wants to endure, an attack inside sources told this publication "certainly encouraged" the company to downsize its employment base in Boone County.
Little more than a shakedown to subsidize ultra-low property taxes for local developers with out-of-state money, Schauwecker's War dragged on for years. In the end, State Tax Commissioners handed Boone County government a stunning defeat that wasn't reported locally until this publication broke the story.
Mr. Schauwecker's many attacks on large, local employers -- 3M, Square D, State Farm, Columbia Regional Hospital -- raise several questions: Is this why we need EEZ, TIF, and Chapter 100 programs?
Why are We the People now being forced to pay for these policy blunders by having our town blighted and so much money taken from our schools?
Why didn't our leaders get off the backs of local employers from the get go?
And where was REDI -- that supposed guardian of job growth -- when Mr. Schauwecker went after these companies, chasing them as high up the court system as he could go -- on our dime, no less?
Instead, We the People are left to pick up the pieces.
"Now, with the last batch of 38 employees scheduled for layoff in June, company officials and Columbia's Regional Economic Development Inc. (REDI) are working to attract production of new 3M products to fill the unused space in the 380,000-square-foot building," the Columbia Business Times reported in 2008. "And the city has given the company a break on its electric rates."
Why are We the People now being forced to pay for these policy blunders by having our
town blighted and so much money taken from our schools?
In the annals of absurdity, it doesn't get any more absurd than the 3M debacle -- and the big tax abatement push for local manufacturers and other employers.
Heard by the county commission's Board of Equalization (BOE); then a state hearing officer; and finally, the full Missouri State Tax commission -- the shakedown of 3M tied up nearly $1.4 million property tax dollars -- mostly for local public schools -- in escrow for three years.
"On April 12, 2007, Senior Hearing Officer Luann Johnson issued her decision and order SETTING ASIDE the value determined by the Boone County Board of Equalization (or BOE, mostly composed of Boone County Commissioners) and adopting the value proposed by the taxpayer, 3M" reads the first order. But Schauwecker fought on, taking his appeals to the full State Tax Commission, where he was again denied on October 11, 2007.
Mr. Schauwecker's battle with 3M tied up nearly $1.4 million property tax dollars --
mostly for local public schools -- in escrow for three years.
Mr. Schauwecker valued 3M's business property at $56,878,860.00. The County Commission agreed. But the State Tax Commission slashed that by nearly two thirds, to $20,289,000.00.
State Tax commissioners summarized Boone County's handling of 3M
as "unlawful, unfair, arbitrary" and "capricious."
Mr. Schauwecker valued 3M's manufacturing property at $12,516,700.00. The County Commission agreed. But the State Tax Commission knocked that down over $5,000,000, to $7,250,000.00.
State Tax commissioners called Boone County's handling of 3M "unlawful, unfair, arbitrary" and "capricious."
Yet, not one person from any agency said anything about this. Not REDI. Not City Hall. And the Boone County Commission approved it all. Now, we need to go EE-Z on BIZ??