World’s Second Largest Corporation ‘Freeloads’ off Taxpayers

Genesee Township assessor Steve Nagy said: “Roger Smith just wants to stomp Us [into] the ground. Gil is shifting the burden from large industrial taxpayers to local people, individuals, who are already up to their necks in taxes.” To achieve this objective, GM has hired a large Detroit law firm with incentive payments in proportion to taxes reduced.
What General Motors and its boss, Boger Smith, are doing is not the usual underassessment politics that corporations direct toward town assessors. Historically, industrial plants have received favored treatment under the property tax laws of the states, compared to homes and small businesses. This leniency stems from the political muscle of the big plant in town, and theinability of underfinanced assessors to cope with the secrecy and delay that companies and their specialists can inflict on them

GM and Smith are seeking capitulation, riot further leniency. Consider the following examples:

  1. Genesee Township is a community of 24,000 people with a GM Fisher Body plant. The facility already has a 12 year, 50 percent exemption on the plant’s personal property. GM now demands a 59% reduction of assessed value on real property. The plant has accounted for one-fifth of all property taxes in Genesee, “If Gil gets what it wants” says Supervisor William Ayre, “it will practically bankrupt our township. What I will have to do is go hack to the residents and raise their taxes or cut back on a lot of social services.”
  2. Flint has five Gil plants and the company wants a 42% reduction. Forty percent of all property taxes in Flint comes from these GM plants. The corporation not only wants this size reduction but is demanding $32 million plus interest in rebates. GM already has a 50 percent exemption on certain assets connected with these plants which were granted in 1976 in return for GM’s promise to maintain or expand employment, Instead GM’s Flint workforce has been cut by 15,000.
  3. Delta Township is facing a GM petition to reduce the assessment by 63 percent despite the fact that the company already has a 5D percent exemption on the engine plant which is now being retooled Township assessor Alan McIntosh told us, “This small township cannot fight GM. Their lawyers are not interested in talking. The Township hoard bent over backwards trying to accommodate General Motors. It’s not fair, It’s not even close to fair.”
  4. Pontiac is facing a $7 million reduction in tax payments by GM facilities. “I have not increased the assessment [in recent years] but all of a sudden they say they can’t bear it,” said assessor James Kephart. “It’s especially puzzling that they would file all of this in a year that they made so much money.”
  5. Comstock Township is a community where GM wants a 7D percent reduction, “Last year General Motors valued that specific property at $27 million,” observed Supervisor Joseph Bruggen. “Now they are coming back and dropping the value by another $17 million. This is absurd And their criteria for assessment is absurd,”

What is also incensing the assessors is that while these GM plants have been modernized over the past decade, thereby increasing their value, the towns have been giving the auto maker tax concessions. Now this greedy company wants to have it both ways; upgrade its plants but sharply downgrade its assessments. Saginaw assessor James Wacker predicted that “If this keeps up, there will be nothing left to the industrial tax base in the state”

Genesee Township assessor Steve Nagy said: “Roger Smith just wants to stomp Us [into] the ground. Gil is shifting the burden from large industrial taxpayers to local people, individuals, who are already up to their necks in taxes.” To achieve this objective, GM has hired a large Detroit law firm with incentive payments in proportion to taxes reduced.

Of course, GM is not asking these towns to provide it with fewer services — police, fire, road repair, school, health and the like. Instead, the world’s second richest corporation wants to freeload on the backs of local property taxpayers — homeowners, merchants and other businesses.

Roger Smith, from his executive office suite, is riot known to be anguished over the plight of these company towns. After all, his is the arrogance of power accustomed to having his way. Well, maybe he is misreading the citizens of Michigan this time; maybe he has pushed them too far Who knows, there may be a special kind of taxpayers revolt brewing in Roger Smith’s state — one against a bullying corporate taxpayer which does not want to pay anything close to its fair -share.

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