Last updated: August 27. 2013 2:50PM - 104 Views

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The seven-member Enhanced Enterprise Zone Committee discussed local development and the expiration of the former Enterprise Zone at its annual meeting this week.

Between July 2008 and June 2009, six local companies received approval for property tax abatements through the EEZ incentive program. Construction projects qualifying for the local EEZ are exempt from property tax payments until 2030.

The valuation of properties within the EEZ that are partially or totally exempt from property taxes totaled about $18.4 million.

Linda Christle, executive director of Economic Development Sedalia-Pettis County, said growth in the EEZ remained relatively steady throughout the challenging economic climate of the last 18 months. While applications for the EEZ program dropped off in the first half of 2009, requests picked up during the latter portion of the year.

“There was a lull between January 2009 and June. We had one in April, but the other six (for the reporting period between July 2008 and June 2009) were all in 2008,” Christle said. “Now I have had three additional ones approved since June.”

Since 2005, the 21 local companies receiving property tax abatements have invested about $78.9 million in the community and created 487 jobs, according to an EDSPC report.

Over the last reporting year, businesses in the local EEZ program created 143 jobs, exceeding the 89 jobs proposed as part of the application process.

Four Pettis County businesses — Waterloo Industries, Impact Signs, Starline Inc. and WireCo World Group — qualified for the state EEZ program, which offers tax credits for businesses that create at least two jobs and invest more than $100,000 in a community.

This year also marked the end of the area’s original Enterprise Zone, which was established in 1984, Pettis County Assessor Dean Dohrman said.

Over the last 25 years, 57 properties in Pettis County with a total valuation of about $40 million received tax abatements as part of the original program. Having those properties back on the tax rolls should add substantially to property tax revenue collections, Dohrman said.

He said the original Enterprise Zone was a learning process for local development officials. Under the new EEZ program, only new construction projects can qualify for the abatements, and Dohrman said the jobs created through the program contribute to increased personal property tax revenues.

“With the new Enhanced Enterprise Zone, you don’t lose anything because it is all new construction,” Dohrman said.

Christle said while she did not manage any new applications under the former Enterprise Zone, she did have to monitor businesses within the program. Several actions can disqualify companies from the program, including a plant closure or major rounds of layoffs, which would force them back on the tax rolls.

The EEZ Committee this week also submitted proposals to the Pettis County Commission to appoint Sedalia Second Ward Councilwoman Susan Collins, Smithton Mayor Jerry Owen, and Barbara Hayden to serve terms on the committee.

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