Prattville, Autauga County approve tax incentives for car dealer -, GA News Weather & Sports

Prattville, Autauga County approve tax incentives for car dealership

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

When Long Lewis Auto Group of Muscle Shoals bought Gilmore Ford in Prattville with intentions to make a new superstore in a new location, there was competition from across the River Region- towns trying to attract the big business.

But Prattville and Autauga County didn't want to see such a key player in their tax base go anywhere. Several new businesses have opened in the Elmore County part of Prattville and officials did not want that to happen in this case.

On Tuesday night, the Prattville City Council and Autauga County Commission moved to offer the dealership tax incentives to set up their new shop on Highway 14 near the interstate.

"Our tax base over the past six, seven years, has dwindled to the point where we feel like this was a business that we could not lose. We've got our backs kind of against the wall if you will of our population increasing, service costs increasing but our tax base dwindling," said County Commissioner Kyle Glover. "This is not money that would be coming out of our tax coffers. We needed to ensure that this dealership would stay here in Autauga County."

"This is what you do to keep business in Autauga County. This is the first step. This is what we are doing as a forward step for the city of Prattville to keep business here and to increase our tax base," added Prattville City Council Member Lora Lee Boone.

The deal has led to questions, concerns and some confusion in Autauga County but on Tuesday night, it was met with little to no opposition at the city council and county commission meetings. 

"It means so much to not only the city but to the county," said local resident Horace Powell. 

Charlie Wall, President of Long Lewis Ford of the River Region, explained: "The city and the county retain all of their tax revenue up to a certain amount which is an average of what we have produced over the past several years. We took the highest number and we have to go over that amount before we ever realize any of the tax breaks for our sales. So they will maintain the same level of tax revenue that they've had over the past 4.5 years."

Officials say the real winners in the agreement are local schools. A majority of the Autauga County sales tax funds the Board of Education. 

The tax rebates do not cover the portion of taxes going to schools. The school system gets to keep all of the new tax revenue as the dealership grows. 

"What actually happened here tonight, whether people realize it or not is actually about retention of jobs and creation of jobs and it's almost about the betterment of our education here in Autauga County for public education," said Prattville Mayor Bill Gillespie. 

Long Lewis Auto Group says it plans to hire more than 20 additional employees at the new Prattville dealership which is set to open in 2015.

It will be built on 13 acres of land at the intersection of Alabama 14 and Old Farm Lane.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.

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