A request made by Brad Manning Ford came up in the last DeKalb council meeting agenda:
The dealership says it can get $400,000 from Ford to put towards the [$2.3 million expansion] project, but that it still can’t foot the rest of the bill. The $110,000 that it is requesting from the city represents about 4.7 percent of the total cost – below the city’s traditional maximum project cost-sharing percentage of 20 percent.
The requested rebate would come from new sales taxes generated over and above the existing taxes that the dealership generates now, according to city documents. The program would end after seven years, or whenever the $110,000 mark is met using a 50-50 split – whichever happens first.
According to documents that the dealership provided to the city, it expects to generate a total of $110,000 in sales taxes in 2014 and more than $170,000 per year by the year 2020.
I left a comment with the story:
I like Manning Ford a lot and have had great experiences with their sales, service and rental departments. However, I note that the City of DeKalb purchased a $29,350 Ford Explorer from them in June, and I wonder which dealer ended up supplying the new squad cars totaling $151,700? In other words, maybe Manning is already getting enough help from the city?
On the day of the meeting another article announced that the city would postpone the discussion. I thought this was weird because the council hadn’t planned to wrestle with the question itself yet, but just to refer it to the Economic Development Committee for an advisory opinion.
Curiosity prompted me to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for payments made by City of DeKalb to Manning. The response arrived yesterday.
The grand total paid by the city to Manning over 14 years, from July 1999 through August 22 of this year is $1,530,847.
Although the amounts can vary widely from year to year depending on whether the city is mostly repairing or actually buying vehicles, the average is $109,346 per year.
For 2013 alone, the total so far (through August 22, anyway) is $108,244.
The observation that this candidate for sales tax rebates is also a regular vendor of significant amounts of product and services to the City of DeKalb probably runs beyond the scope of the rules for the program. It shouldn’t. There’s a fundamental question of fairness at play.
Council is still expected to take this up, perhaps as soon as September 23.