Fulton County voters to decide fate of proposed tax break that aims to attract good jobs

By David Pendered

In hopes of attracting a piece of the thriving internet business, Fulton County’s Board of Commissioners has put a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot to ask voters if they want to provide a tax exemption on all goods stored in warehouses that are to be sent to internet shoppers.

Amazon fulfillment center

Fulton County voters face a referendum on whether to provide a tax break intended to attract fulfillment centers, which can offer well-paid jobs. Credit: cnet.com

These fulfillment centers are job creators and the jobs can be well paid.

Gov. Nathan Deal announced June 22 that a center Amazon is to open in Jackson County is to create more than 500 jobs that pay “competitive” wages. The jobs come with benefits including healthcare; 401(k) and company stock awards starting on day one; maternity and parental leave benefits; and 95 percent of tuition costs, regardless of whether the skills are relevant to a career at Amazon, according to the governor’s statement.

Fulfillment centers are central to the booming business of buying goods through the internet or other remote means. Fulfillment centers are the locations where orders for goods are received, processed, and goods shipped to the purchaser.

Fulton commissioners didn’t predict the number of fulfillment centers that could be attracted, or the number of jobs that might be created if voters approve a freeport exemption on ad valorum taxes on goods stored in a warehouse for less than a year.

But commissioners’ hopes are high. According to the legislation that was passed:

  • “[T]he Fulton County Board of Commissioners has determined that the granting of a Freeport Exemption for E-Commerce would attract fulfillment centers which would generate significant fiscal and economic benefits to the County through wages, real property taxes and personal property taxes.”
Fulton County Commissioner Liz Haussman

Fulton County Commissioner Liz Haussman

The measure was introduced by Commissioner Liz Hausmann, along with co-signers Chairman John Eaves and Commissioner Bob Ellis. The commission adopt the measure Aug. 3 by unanimous vote.

“I am pleased that Fulton County voters will have the opportunity to consider this important economic development incentive,” Hausmann said in a statement. “Our focus is on future investment and the ability to remain competitive in attracting logistics and e-commerce businesses that bring jobs to our community.”

“As we look to the future of our ever-changing economy, this referendum will offer voters the chance to make Fulton County more business friendly and promote investment,” Eaves said in a statement.

The state Legislature set the stage this year for counties to offer freeport tax exemptions.

The House and Senate overwhelmingly approved House Bill 935. The bill authorized counties to offer freeport tax exemptions on warehouse goods that were purchased by the internet or other remote means and delivered to the purchaser. Goods that are exempt from ad valorum taxes cannot be picked up at the warehouse by the customer.

The bill didn’t generate much controversy. The Georgia Municipal Association supported it. The Association County Commissioners of Georgia was neutral.

The statewide legislation was introduced by Rep. Brett Harrell (R-Snellville). Co-signers included Rep. Jay Powell (R-Camilla), Rep. Ron Stephens (R-Savannah), Rep. David Knight (R-Griffin), Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming), and others.

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

5 replies
  1. Maleman01 says:

    They must be out of their minds. I went to a job fair and offered to start out with 9.00 hr. You cant come ro our community and not pay taxes and offer petty jobs to the residents and put a giant warehouse in our back yards. Walmart profits billions off the backs of hard working citizens.Report

    Reply
  2. junehodges says:

    From New York State’s official website:

    “To encourage growth of manufacturing upstate, Gov. Cuomo recommends that the state eliminate the corporate tax rate for upstate Manufacturers.”   Wow……Liberal nonsense disguising corporate welfare. Shameful.Report

    Reply
  3. DemosCat says:

    Frankly, I’m confused about this freeport measure on the 2016 ballot for Fulton County. According to the Fulton County web site, a freeport exemption is *already* available to fulfillment centers located in the county. From http://www.fultoncountyga.gov/component/content/article/551-general-econ/5286-business-location-incentives

    Fulton County offers 100% inventory tax exemptions for three classes of property:

    • Manufacturer’s raw materials and goods-in-process
    • Finished goods produced in Georgia within the last 12 months
    • Finished goods stored in Georgia within the last 12 months and destined for out-of-state shipment.

    So what else does this ballot measure do?Report

    Reply

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