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Macomb Township

October 10, 2012

Macomb grants local company tax-abatement extension

By Robert Guttersohn
C & G Staff Writer

» click to enlarge «
Donna Wisniewski, owner of Sterling Die and Engineering, stands before a mural inside her company’s building that she had fashioned after the Diego Rivera mural in the Detroit Institute of Arts. The Macomb Board of Trustees granted her company a two-year extension on her 10-year tax abatement.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — There is no doubt the township loses money from the industrial facilities exemption certificate abatement it grants to several manufacturing companies within Macomb.

Last year, the township lost out on $24,539 in property taxes from IFEC abatements, according to the township’s assessing department.

But that’s only a fraction of its $50 million budget, and proponents of the 50-percent property-tax relief say, in the long the run, the township benefits from helping companies grow and keeping employers within its borders.

That’s why when Donna Wisniewski, owner of Sterling Die and Engineering, requested that the township extend her company’s 10-year tax abatement for two more years, the Board of Trustees approved it with very little questioning.

“Let’s try to hire Macomb Township people, if you can,” Trustee Dino Bucci said to Wisniewski at the Sept. 26 meeting, just before the board approved  the extension unanimously.

The board passed Sterling’s original exemption in 2001.

Since then, the company has doubled its staff and diversified from being just an auto-based supplier to also developing parts for the solar-power industry.

Wisniewski said she now employs 52 people, six of them from Macomb Township.

With the increase in labor and demand, she plans to expand the company’s footprint by leasing a space next door to the building she currently owns just off 23 Mile Road.

“That’s another reason why I was trying to push the abatement, because we will be expanding,” she said.

She saves about $4,000 a year from the abatement and insists it keeps her company headquartered in the township.

“It helps us to want to stay here,” she said. “I know Macomb Township in the past hasn’t been so cooperative. With that being said, I think they’re more open now.”

Township Clerk Michael Koehs said although the township loses money now from the abatements, it will likely take in more money in taxes later, when the abatement expires.

“When they do come off, they’re usually bigger, they have more people and they pay more taxes, and it doesn’t take that much time to recoup that.”

The township benefits in the present, too, he said. First, the industrial company receiving the abatement agrees to make a financial commitment to the township and agrees to hire a certain number of Macomb residents if it can.

“We can’t force them to hire someone who’s unqualified,” Koehs said.

The number of years the board grants the company is based on the level of commitment.“Sometimes we only give six (years), sometimes we give them the entire 12 (years),” he said.

The abatements also allow companies to better project their costs.

“It’s much easier to budget if you have fixed expenses as opposed to expenses that might be all over the map,” Koehs said. “And it makes them more competitive in the marketplace.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robert Guttersohn at rguttersohn@candgnews.com or at (586)218-5006.