Business tax breaks

Bass Pro Shops: The Strike

Open wide and say ahh.

The voters have spoken; give the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners the ability to grant certain businesses up to 100% tax breaks for as long as 10 years.

Who makes up for the costs of providing County services to these businesses?
You got it, the taxpayers, including established businesses which will be forced to fund these tax breaks, even if they are for competing businesses. 

How did this happen?
Just months before the Nov. 2, 2010 elections, Commissioner Ken Hagan got the approval from the other commissioners to put on the upcoming ballot a proposal that would create “incentives” for certain new and expanding businesses in the county. 

This was supposed to be for businesses mostly in manufacturing, finance, professional, scientific and technical services.

These “target industries” are based on the January 15, 2009 Florida Enterprise QTI Tax Refund Target Industries incentive information sheet. Target industries SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED from this list are: Retail activities, hotels and restaurants.

The rational for these exclusions for tax incentives is that they bring little new money into a community and offer mostly low-wage, part-time, no-benefit jobs. 

AFTER Hagan got the approval from the rest of the BOCC, he added a few extra lines into his tax incentive ballot initiative that essentially gave the BOCC the ability, at their discretion, to grant tax breaks to businesses NOT on the Florida Enterprise list, like retail, hotels and restaurants. 

Shortly thereafter candidate Ken Hagan began making statements at public campaign forums that Bass Pro Shops (a retailer with restaurant and hotel facilities) was the first example of a specific business that would be attracted to Hillsborough County,
but ONLY IF the tax incentive ballot measure was passed.

The voters having passed the business tax break program, Hagan was heard to say that it would help “powerhouses” such as Bass Pro Shops and small businesses [except for existing small sporting goods stores]. 

What about attracting high-tech, medical and light manufacturing businesses to Hillsborough County? Sorry, all the available incentives may already have been used for Bass Pro Shops. 

So it will be interesting to watch where Hillsborough County taxpayer money goes after this. Bass Pro Shops will no doubt be very grateful to Commissioner Hagan for helping pass this tax break program, if they aren’t already.

<IMHO> Fred Jacobsen

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3 Responses to “Business tax breaks”

  1. We have so many other incentives. Mr. Hagan’s Bass Pro shops example is why we can’t trust them and particularly when they don’t allow us to know exactly what we are voting for.

    The voters were not educated on this nor did they even attempt to be educated.

    It’s a sad day for Hillsborough for a lot of reasons.

  2. The voters were asleep at the switch on this one…there is no way it will be repealed if abused. We do get the government we deserve

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