City approves abatement for Banterra, barely
by Terra Temple
Aug 13, 2014 | 974 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It came down to a tie breaking vote — twice —  Monday night as to whether the Metropolis City Council would accept or reject Massac County’s request for a 10-year tax abatement for the new Banterra Bank building.

Ward 1 Alderman Kim Brown and Ward 2 Alderman Bob Midnight were absent from Monday’s meeting.

It was July when Banterra announced its two-fold plan: 1) to donate is property and building for the government functions housed in the Massac County Courthouse and 2) to construct a new branch at the corner of Ferry and Sixth streets.

After that plan became official, the Massac County Commission sent letters to the county’s taxing bodies — the City of Metropolis, the Village of Joppa, the City of Brookport, Shawnee Community College and Massac Memorial Hospital — asking them to consider abating the real property taxes on the new Banterra Bank facility for a total of 10 years. Massac Unit District One was not included as Banterra has agreed to pay the taxes for the district.

Because the land Banterra will relocateto is in the Enterprise Zone, taxes on the property improvements are automatically abated for five years. Through the letter, Banterra is requesting an another five years be added.

The Illinois Enterprise Zone Act was signed into law in 1982 providing a number of incentives to encourage companies to locate or expand within a zone. There are 95 Enterprise Zones in the state. Metropolis joined with Joppa, Brookport and Massac County to form one Enterprise Zone several years ago.

At Monday’s meeting, a motion was made to accept the request. That opened up discussion on the matter and Alderman Bill Carrell told the council he didn’t feel informed enough to make a proper decision. “All I know is what I’ve read in the paper. I don’t know why they’re bringing the city into it,” he said.

Mayor Billy McDaniel noted that the other taxing bodies have granted Enterprise Zone requests when the City of Metropolis has made them. “And we’ve asked for a lot of them. I personally think it’s a fair thing because they’ve participated in everything we’ve ever wanted to do and they’ve given their taxes up for every project.”

“Banterra Bank’s asking for it? Do we have anything making that statement, black and white, hard copy?” Carrell said.

“I haven’t seen anything,” McDaniel replied.

Carrell then made a motion to table the request to the council’s Finance Committee “until we get more information on it.” Alderman Charles Barfield seconded the motion.

Alderman Jerry Mizell asked what the abatement would mean to the city’s revenue.

City attorney Rick Abell noted Banterra will automatically receive a five-year tax abatement under the Enterprise Zone — meaning they won’t pay taxes on the improvements but they will on the land.

“We’re going to give up, regardless, five years of tax abatement on the new building. It’s the additional five years they’re asking for,” he said. “The old building (will become) a unit of government so there won’t be any taxes on it moving forward.”

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