Prattville car dealership responds to concerns over tax incentiv -, GA News Weather & Sports

Prattville car dealership responds to concerns over tax incentives

(Source: WSFA 12 News) (Source: WSFA 12 News)

The former Gilmore Ford in Prattville is addressing concerns over the sale of the franchise and proposed tax incentives.

Long-Lewis Ford of Muscle Shoals has purchased Gilmore Ford with a plan to move the dealership to 13 acres on Highway 14 in Prattville -- closer to the interstate.

The Prattville City Council and the Autauga County Commission are partnering on a single plan -- a proposal that has a complex set of numbers. In essence the deal would be a rebate of 75 percent of new taxes up to $2 million over a 10-year period. By new taxes we mean the tax collected over the amount the dealership now pays.

Officials with Gilmore Ford say the rebates being discussed wouldn't take effect until after they build.

"The way the tax rebates are set up, is that Autauga County and Prattville get to keep all their tax revenue that they've been getting from us for the past four years, so the tax rebates as far as us, is really where the risk is at because we have to generate above and beyond the current amount of revenue that we have generated over the last four years, which has been good," said Charlie Wall with Gilmore Ford. "The community has been very good to us. So we really have to double that business for us to even realize any of those incentives."

Concerned citizen Jon Lee Finnegan is none too happy about the proposal.

"The reason is as of today we still have a $47 million debt from the last tax incentive plan," Finnegan said.

Finnegan is referring to the High Point shopping center in east Prattville, a project in which the city lost millions after the Great Recession.

"It's not a new manufacturing company. It's not a new box company. It's somebody who is already here. My worry is if we start with this who are we going to have to offer next?" Finnegan said.

Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie admitted promoting a tax incentive plan for any business is a double-edged sword, but this is the reality of today's business climate. The mayor says Long-Lewis hasn't purchased the 13 acres because the dealership is waiting to see what the two governing bodies decide to do.

"It does make life difficult but on the other hand it makes other communities more competitive with their neighbor," Gillespie said.

Gillespie says he's not sure about the county commission but believes there is a good chance the city council will vote Tuesday night on the proposal during its regular council meeting. The county commission is meeting at the same time.

Long-Lewis says it plans to hire more than 20 additional employees.

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