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Article published October 30, 2012
Panel’s tax plan best
Thomas Graham, member Butler Downtown Economic Restructuring Committee
For the second time since Oct. 3, the Butler Eagle has editorialized concerning Butler’s business privilege tax abatement proposal. Both times the newspaper has endorsed a more limited abatement plan and criticized the plan put forth by Butler Downtown’s Economic Restructuring Committee. Yes, the three-year abatement plan originally placed on the city council’s September agenda that offers a schedule of 100 percent, 75 percent and 50 percent abatements is a better incentive than the ordinance currently on record. However, it still offers little encouragement for a business to move into the city. The abatement schedule, as written, runs on a calendar-year basis. If a new business moves in during the month of October, the 100 percent abatement is only a three-month reduction. A 75 percent abatement during the second year of business only decreases the effective millage to an amount that still is greater than that of Butler Township and Center Township. The 50 percent abatement in the third year reduces the millage. However, that amount still is three and a half times higher than that of Cranberry Township. Past the first year, there is no financial enticement for moving a business to the city. The abatement plan that the Butler Downtown Economic Restructuring Committee presented is aggressive. Any abatement plan should be an incentive. Successful businesses analyze and scrutinize before making investments. A three-year noncompetitive plan is worse for the city than no plan at all. While the city’s revenue might not increase in the category of business privilege taxes over the span of a five-year period, any influx of businesses downtown would improve other revenue categories. Parking fees, permits, earned-income taxes and local service taxes will go up. The Economic Restructuring Committee’s efforts are endorsed by the Butler County Chamber of Commerce. An abatement ordinance is only phase one. Our intention is to work with the city to develop phase two, the reduction of the business privilege tax to a more equitable level comparedwith surrounding municipalities. While the Butler Eagle is correct that the city council needs to address this issue soon, I suggest that the newspaper research and analyze more in depth before endorsing any particular plan, just as the Economic Restructuring Committee did.