Portland may add a couple of new abatement options next year.
Portland City Council is considering the new options — three and seven years respectively — after receiving an update Monday from Jay County Development Corp. executive director Bill Bradley.
Council also approved the city budget for 2018 and set residential trick-or-treating hours.
Bradley told council he is planning to meet with the tax abatement advisory committee in the next few weeks to discuss adding three- and seven-year intervals to the abatement plan.
Currently, five-year abatements are available for personal property (typically manufacturing equipment) and 10-year abatements are available for the purchase of real estate or construction of a structure.
“It gives us some flexibility depending on the amount of investment being made by the particular company, then we would go with one of those, perhaps one of those other intervals, rather than just a straight five and 10,” Bradley said. “If you look at most of our investments, have been in personal property, i.e. new equipment, we really have not had a lot of real property investment.”
He also brought up the possibility of “super abatements,” 100 percent abatements that would allow a business to operate for 10 or 20 years tax-free. But he reminded council that Portland and Jay County have specific rules for granting a super abatement.
“Personally I think that’s very poor public policy,” Bradley said. “The only way we would ever consider what they call a super abatement was if someone came in and was going to invest $70 million dollars of new investment and create 200 new jobs. … I don’t think that’s probably going to happen, I doubt it.”
A few council members also raised the question of whether the low unemployment rate in the county could deter businesses from coming to Portland. Jay County’s unemployment rate was 4.3 percent in August.
“Actually at this point, when you look at our area of the Midwest, when you look at northeast Indiana, east-central Indiana, northwest Ohio, every community’s in about the same boat,” Bradley said. “All this area, all this region is facing (low unemployment) right now, and really most of the industrial Midwest.”
Bradley told council members he will present any changes and updates to the abatement plan at their Nov. 6 meeting.