China Grove reduces Macy’s tax incentive package – Salisbury Post

China Grove reduces Macy’s tax incentive package

Published 12:07 am Friday, August 4, 2023

CHINA GROVE — China Grove officials amended its tax incentive offer to Macy’s after the online distributor’s initial projections of jobs fell flat.

During the China Grove Town Council’s monthly meeting on Wednesday at town hall, the council members elected to change the tax structure to a 60 percent incentive over 10 years instead of a 70 percent incentive over 15 years.

According to China Grove Council Member Steve Stroud, who motioned to set the rate at 60/10, the 10 percent difference will amount to $250,000 the town will retain each year instead of giving it back to Macy’s. With a tax incentive structure, a business still pays its taxes but receives a return of a set amount each year. Following the approval of the new amount, Macy’s will still receive 60 percent of their taxes back from China Grove.

Early projections for full-time jobs expectations at the distribution center have swung low since initial reports said that more than 2,000 jobs could be expected.

“It’s hard for me to be able to pat myself on the back with 1,300 jobs or whatever it is now and calculate that into giving them $250,000 a year in taxes back to a multi-billion dollar company, that cut their job numbers down over half,” Stroud said.

The council member pointed to the increased demand for city services that will accompany growth trends China Grove is currently experiencing.

“(Growth is) coming, and there is nothing we can do about it,” Stroud said. “Some folks, I see on social media, say we want to stay a small town. Well, that is great. I would like that too, but I don’t want to have to pay those bills on my own, and neither does anyone else that I know of. We have to allow growth to an extent just to be able to afford the cost of living.”

Council Member Don Bringle, who seconded the motion to amend the tax structure, added, “Along that line, Steve said $250,000. That is a lot of money. A fire truck now costs a million dollars. It’s not a ladder truck. That’s a fire truck. Our town is growing. In four years, we could buy a fire truck through some of the savings incurred through this.”

With the rate of growth and change happening, Bringle advised against locking into any deal over a decade.

“I see nothing wrong with the 10 years,” Bringle said. “I want to get all that we can. We are not a county with deep pockets. We are a municipality struggling to get ahead. We are growing with our streets. We are going with our fire department and staff as well. It’s difficult.”

Council Member Cheryl Sheets was the lone vote against the change. Sheets expressed various concerns, such as the impact that changing the tax structure late in the game could have on China Grove’s reputation as a destination for commercial investment.

“Let’s step back and look at the total picture of all the income coming in and the relationship we want with them,” Sheets said. “If someone comes to them and asks if they recommend China Grove, I want them to say wholeheartedly yes.”
Sheets also worried that her fellow council members were focusing on the direct tax injection from Macy’s rather than ancillary dollars that would follow such a large uptick in a China Grove based workforce.

“When I think of employees, I don’t just think of restaurants downtown,” Sheets said. “We’re going to have 1,300 people coming into this town every day to work. We are going to need daycares, doctor’s offices, dental, beauty salons and nail salons because people who have a chance can run out at lunch and grab that. They can schedule a doctor nearby. Just to say restaurants, I think we are missing the whole point. It’s all these things coming into China Grove.”

Mayor Pro Tem Arthur Heggins did not cast a vote. He was not present at the meeting but did follow along on Zoom.

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