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Posted: June 9, 2012 2:52 p.m.

BOE OKs school tax abatement for Baxter

The Newton County Board of Education is set to receive upwards of $8 million over a 10-year period after unanimously agreeing to a tax abatement agreement with the Joint Development Authority and Baxter International.

Two estimates were done, one by the Joint Development Authority's CPA and one by the Newton County Chief Appraiser. Under the first estimate, the CPA calculated a start date of Baxter making money (which they have to either have FDA approval or by 2020) of 2017 with a phased purchase of equipment. The estimate of taxes collected during a 10-year period under that estimate is $31.2 million for the four counties in the agreement (Newton, Walton, Jasper and Morgan). With the second estimate, all equipment would be purchased in a year with a 2020 state date, bringing the amount collected to $49.6 million. These numbers are based on the Walton County millage rate, since the first phase of Baxter will be built on the Walton side of Stanton Springs.

Without Baxter, the counties would receive approximately $280,000 in 10 years.

Similarly, the school boards in the four counties could receive $21.2 million under the first estimate or $33.7 million under the second, where they would have only received $190,000 over that 10-year period without Baxter.
As for how this affects the NCSS directly, the estimate is that they will receive $8 million under the first estimate and $12.6 million under the second. Without Baxter, the 10-year estimation of tax collection is $71,352.

The Joint Development Authority was formed in 1999 by joint resolution and they purchased roughly 1,600 acres, known as Stanton Springs. In 2004, the four counties entered into a revenue sharing agreement, which allows a portion of the property tax revenues collected to be split as follows: Newton and Walton receive 37.5 percent, Morgan 15 percent and Jasper 10 percent. After years of marketing, even partnering with Technology Park Atlanta to push marketing of Stanton Springs, in April, Baxter chose to locate their $1 billion development there.

Active in the promotion of education by way of grants, Baxter has launched programs in Chicago where it is headquartered.

"I think we have a lot to look forward to as far as their commitments in education in the future," said Andrea Gray, an attorney with the Law Offices of Wm. Thomas Craig, who gave the presentation to the board. "Is it unfortunate our communities have to abate taxes to draw in these types of businesses, yes. But it's a competitive field."

The board unanimously approved the resolution Tuesday. Walton County's BOE approved the resolution earlier this month and the same resolution was adopted by both Newton and Walton county tax assessors weeks ago.

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