Friday, September 23, 2011

Comlux Hasn't Paid Property Taxes In 2011 Yet - Oopsie !

Now, if you or I didn't pay our property taxes, we'd be sweating each time the phone rang.  Hell, they got Capone on taxes.

But, if you are are a business in Indy and can make the right connections, the city will toss you a $6.5 million loan with the possibility that half a million of it will be forgiven if you manage to meet certain job creation targets. 

That's what happened with Comlux America, LLC, who will use the loan to help build itself a new, bigger, hangar on airport property.  The Airport also has a deal to acquire the hangar once it is built and lease it back to Comlux.  It apparently meant little that Comlux America, LLC, had not filed its required Form 103/104 to report its Business Personal Property (due by May 15, 2010) until after the May, 2011, property taxes were usually due.  Because of the late filing, the property taxes on the personal property are now due in November.  Presumably with a penalty added on.  Hopefully with a penalty added on.  As of today, the taxes remain unpaid.

As with all businesses that locate on airport property, they get a pass on real estate property taxes.  So, one might think that the City would at least require such a company getting a loan secured with TIF district proceeds to be current in the taxes it does owe.  Guess there really aren't any sort of minimal standards and there seems to be little due diligence on the part of the Ballard administration when it comes to handing out our money.  I am given to understand that at least some people knew of the unpaid taxes during the process to approve the deal.

The MDC voted in favor of the deal on December 5, 2010 (There are 9 voting members, but I do not have the exact vote).

The Economic Development Commission voted in favor of the deal on June 8, 2011 (There are 5 voting members, but I do not have the exact vote).

On July 13, the Economic Development Committee of the Council voted 5-0 in favor of the deal.  I even showed up to voice opposition to the use of TIF funds, but it never crossed my mind that they were behind in filing their business personal tax form, much less late in paying the taxes that would be due had the form been timely filed.

On July 15, the Indianapolis International Airport Board voted 6-0 to delegate authority to the Executive Director to approve the deal.

On July 18, the City-County Council voted in favor of this proposal (Prop 190, 2011) by a vote of 25 yes, 2 no (Councillors Ed Coleman and Brian Mahern), and 2 not voting (Councillors Doris Minton McNeil and Joanne Sanders).  While the minutes of this meeting suggest a somewhat extended discussion of the Proposal, nobody stopped to ask if the company was current with its tax filings.

That's a lot of people to get through.  Maybe it should become a standard question in the future, so that the overarching interests of the public are served.


Anonymous said...

Doesn;t the Township Assessor, County Assessor and County Auditor have some duty here in view of the unassessed or underassessed property that would result for the unfiled 103/104 forms?

Jon said...

Question HEI, if the airport builds their solar array is it off the property tax books as well? And, secondly if they aren't using that land why doesn't it revert back to the city?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Anon - you ask a very good question. I understand that Decatur Township's Assessor would comb through each one each year. But the now single County Assessor didn't catch this one. I'd have to agree that it seems some measure should be taken to flag these by the Assessor. It would seem doable - at least for those who previously filed.

But, certainly one has to wonder at the wisdom of granting any sort of financing or tax abatement to a company that is not up to date on its obligations to the City.

Had Enough Indy? said...

Jon - you bring up a very interesting point. I really do not know what the solar panels would be considered. If they are considered business personal and not land improvements, then they would be required to pay property taxes - unless an abatement is awarded by the City.

As for the airport - they are keeping all the land they have, even if they do not need it for aviation purposes. They plan to build an industrial park on much of it. They will lease the land and any buildings built will be tax free. This is just their way of getting property taxes - they simply 'save' the businesses the property tax amount and charge the lease fee -- so they keep all of the taxes that way. This is wrong, in my opinion. It will affect Wayne and Decatur the most, but it also costs all county taxpayers. In addition, they will be competing unfairly with nearby industrial parks and established businesses because of the tax free status that the airport has.

The Mayor, whoever that ends up being, needs to step in and stop this.

Jon said...

HEI, there needs to be a mechanism to reclaim the airport property that isn't being utilized. Why should the taxpayers of Indianapolis give up property tax dollars on land not being used directly as part of the airport?

Had Enough Indy? said...

Jon - you said it better than I have.