Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tax Abatement Sought For Vacant Land Described As Blighted

Library District and the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance Indicate Law Suits If Council Approves Abatement

By Phyllis Schaltenbrand

The owner of Trinity Products, Robert Griggs appeared before the St. Charles City Council Tuesday evening requesting 10-year tax abatement on a 46-acre tract of land he owns on Truman Boulevard and the Norfolk and Southern railroad line.

Trinity Steel has built a factory on the property that rolls steel into tubing. He has moved his business from O’Fallon, Missouri to this location because of the railroad access. Trinity currently has 50 employees and expect that number to rise to 85 with jobs paying from $15 to $20 an hour. He also intends to add a commercial strip shopping center to the property and additional warehousing.

Griggs, of Trinity Steel, bought the ground and now it's turning out to be more expensive than he thought so he apparently wants the city taxpayers to bail him out.

This ground was not considered blighted when he purchased it. Griggs said he looked at many locations to purchase and decided on this tract because of the railroad access. The access had value to him and now he is saying after just two years the acreage went from valuable to blighted.

Some in attendance at the meeting told the First Capitol News they believed this would be nothing short of a give away to Trinity. They asked why should the city bail out Griggs’s Company for construction costs when his new factory is already operational? The owner of Trinity told the council he expects his company sales are going to triple to $75 million over the next few years.

If approved by the city council, the abatement would take taxes that would go to other taxing districts such as the county library and the county and city. During the public hearing Griggs said Trinity had an agreement to pay the taxing districts 40 percent of what they could have received in taxes for the first five years increasing that amount to 50 percent for the last 10 years.

Speaking in opposition to the tax abatement was John Thoelke representing the St. Charles County Developmental Disabilities Resource Board, Dan Burkemper, executive director for the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance and two representatives from the St. Charles County Library District, Kim Harding and Carl Sandstedt.

Both Sandstedt of the County Library District and Burkemper of the Great Rivers Habitat Alliance indicated their organizations were considering filing suit if the St. Charles City Council approved the abatement.

On a motion by Councilman Jerry Reese, in whose ward the property is located, the council voted to have the legislation for approval of the abatement drawn up and placed on the next City Council agenda.