Harvey County Commissioners answered questions and addressed concerns from community members about tax abatements at their meeting Monday morning. At the Nov. 12 meeting, commissioners had approved a tax abatement for IMMI of Burrton. Following a 3-0 approval, the company will receive a 100 percent tax abatement. One community member who attended this Monday’s meeting said he had concerns about the abatement and the fact it was a full abatement, rather than a graduated abatement that would be reduced over time. Commission chair Marge Roberson had said previously her preference was to do tiered abatements, but she also added Monday tax abatements were a complicated issue. “It’s not quite as cut and dried as it may seem,” she said. IMMI — which manufactures safety equipment for school buses — came to Burrton about a year ago, moving into a building vacated when Lang Cabinets scaled back and closed much of its operation. Lang had constructed the building, and received a tax abatement when the building was built. The Nov. 12 abatement for IMMI extends that same abatement, but with a new start date. The abatement was promised when IMMI was looking at the site. Officials believe the abatement not only assisted in getting IMMI to locate in Burrton but also helped keep other businesses afloat. “Those jobs were important to the city of Burrton,” said John Waltner, county administrator. He said the city of Burrton had asked the other taxing entities to grant the abatement, and the county normally defers to the host cities that have made the agreements. If companies such as IMMI do not meet requirements such as use of the building, they will lose their abatement. Roberson said while tax abatements may not always seem fair, large manufacturers that bring a significant number of jobs to the area are important to the local economy. “They handle a lot more money that will eventually come to cities, counties and school districts in taxes,” she said.
Kansan editor Chad Frey contributed to this article.