Shelby Board Awards Amazon 12 Year Tax Abatement

by ANDREW NEAL

At their May 15 meeting, the Shelby Township Board of Trustees unanimously awarded Amazon a 12-year tax abatement for their new distribution warehouse at 23 & Mound. Township officials addressed resident’s concerns about road improvements and just how extensive the tax breaks for the world’s largest online retailer would be.

The Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption Certificate (IFEC) was awarded to Amazon under Public Act 198 and provides them a 41% tax break for 12 years. The new 1-million-square-foot distribution facility was built on the grounds of the old Ford Trim Plant, a contaminated site that cost almost $10 million to clean up. The new facility will bring with it 1,000 jobs to the area.

Shelby Township Assessor Matt Schmidt introduced the IFEC application to the board at Tuesday’s meeting. “To put the size of this new building in perspective, you could fit almost 15 regulation size football fields under this new building’s roof,” Schmidt said, adding that it is on track to be completed by October.

As noted in the agenda item notes at the meeting, the Macomb County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was established in order to provide economic incentives through tax increment financing (TIF) for certain eligible activities in order to promote the redevelopment of “contaminated properties.” Amazon’s Brownfield Plan was to complete environmental due diligence on the site. The property developer was seeking Brownfield TIF reimbursement, which was estimated at approximately $9.1 million. According to the plan it will take approximately 20 years to repay the developer for the total cost of all of these eligible activities by capturing incremental taxes generated by the Shelby Township, Macomb County, Macomb Community College, Macomb Intermediate School District (MISD), HCMA, SMART and Macomb Veterans millages. This Brownfield Plan has already been approved by the Macomb County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Shelby Township Board of Trustees and Macomb County Board of Commissioners.

Amazon claims in their IFEC application a total property investment of just over $100 million. They requested a total property tax abatement of $9,011,200 over 12 years for all jurisdictions; Shelby Township’s abatement includes about $2.3 million of that total.

Schmidt reiterated the company’s high property investment and job creation numbers, recommending the board approve the abatement.

Shelby Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis asked Schmidt to clarify a few of the finer points of the proposal. “Like you just stated, 41% of the taxes on the building will go to repay the property owner for the eligible remediation expenses. So our primary objectives of getting that property cleaned up has been achieved,” Stathakis said, adding that the other 59% “will immediately go to the state education tax, Utica Community Schools, Macomb Zoo Society, and the Art Institute as well.”

Shelby Township and other local entities will begin collecting revenue after the $9.1 million is paid or after 20 years, whichever comes first.

One resident asked what would be done to improve the roads, specifically the degradation of infrastructure at the intersection of 23 Mile Road and M-53. Supervisor Stathakis pointed out that the township has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Authority, with another $500,00 added by the township and Macomb County for a total of $2.5 million to improve the 23 & M-53 intersection.

That project could begin as soon as this summer, but the supervisor noted that since the MEDC hasn’t actually given the township the money yet, it could be delayed to early next year.

The next Board of Trustees meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, June 5. Watch the latest meeting at shelbytwp.org and click on “Board of Trustees.”