Mayor, councilman once again debate eliminating business personal property tax

Local News

City council is deciding on the future of Allen County’s business personal property tax. 

The idea was up for debate two years ago, but failed. Councilman Jason Arp says this time is different, because there has been more time for people to think about the plan to eliminate the tax and the process to do it.

It’s a tax businesses pay on their assets with the money going to places like schools, the airport and library system. The state gave counties the decision to eliminate the tax, and because the majority of businesses affected are in Fort Wayne, a city council vote will be the final say.

“Are we going to create a business friendly environment or are we going to micromanage people’s businesses?” Councilman Jason Arp asked.

Arp is looking to eliminate the tax, while eliminating abatements.

Mayor Tom Henry shakes his head at the pitch.

“I understand where the councilman is coming from, but I just think there’s other ways of addressing incentives for business besides this,” Henry said.

Backed by community leaders, the mayor held a press conference Thursday, sharing the numbers of potential lost income. The meeting was near identical to one in 2016. Back then, the potential impact was $50 million. Today, it’s $55 million per year.

“We can not absorb that kind of hit,” Henry added. “Particularly our school systems, our library and our airport, let alone the city municipal services.”

Arp disagrees with that number, telling NewsChannel 15 it’s around $35 million, which would be off-set by eliminating those abatements.

“It’s one that would be reasonable for us to get rid of,” Arp explained. “We have a path to do so. It simply gets government out of the way.”

A public hearing is set to happen at the city council meeting Tuesday, July 24.

Council would decide if a vote will happen after the hearing. The 2016 vote failed 3-6. A current vote count is unknown, but Democrat Geoff Paddock was among the group at the conference backing the mayor.

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