By far, the most important item was Taylor’s approval of a 100 percent increase in Freeport tax exemptions, a move that means reduced property taxes for local manufacturers and other businesses holding inventories of goods produced in Georgia.
“This is one of the single most important things we can do in our economic development strategy to bring quality jobs to this county,” Taylor said. “I am really happy that we are taking this step.”
In Georgia, the governing authority of any county or municipality may elect, with the approval of the voters, to establish Freeport tax exemptions on:
1. goods in the process of being manufactured or produced, including raw materials and partly finished goods; 2. finished goods manufactured or produced within the state and held by the manufacturer or producer for a period not to exceed 12 months; and 3. finished goods that are stored in a warehouse, dock or wharf as of Jan. 1 and are destined for shipment outside the state for a period not to exceed 12 months.
The exemption is particularly important for economic development because companies looking for a new location are looking for ways to narrow the field — to eliminate rather than select sites. Some manufacturers immediately eliminate counties that can’t offer a 100 percent Freeport exemption.
Bartow County voters passed a referendum several years ago authorizing then-commissioner Clarence Brown to set percentage increases of 20, 40, 60, 80 or 100 percent of the inventory value. Brown increased the exemptions slowly in 20 percent increments, but stopped at 80 percent following the economic downturn.
“This morning’s announcement from Commissioner Taylor increasing the Freeport exemption from 80 to 100 percent means that Bartow should no longer be eliminated from consideration for this reason,” said Melinda Lemmon, executive director of the Cartersville-Bartow Department of Economic Development. “It’s actually an industry retention tool for Bartow as well.”
In other commission business, Taylor:
• approved an agreement with Coast2Coast to provide discount prescription cards to Bartow citizens;
• conveyed 5,425 square feet of county right of way on SR 140 to the Georgia DOT for road improvements;
• approved purchases of property at 102 Fite St. for Roselawn parking, 401-403 Johnson St. for water department expansion, and 102 Burnt Hickory Road for the Burnt Hickory Road connector project;
• approved agreements with the cities of Euharlee and Kingston to conduct elections;
• approved a contract with GLE Facilities and Environmental Consultants to perform asbestos abatement services at the former Georgia State Patrol post;
• approved a contract with Tippins Contracting Co. for utility relocation on SR 20;
• approved a partnership with the Georgia Department of Revenue to ensure proper payment of sales tax;
• amended the building code to raise the minimum square footage on any new home to 1,100 square feet and any new roof pitch is changed from 5 to 12 degrees.