Why I vetoed Costco’s living wage waiverWritten by Carty Finkbeiner | | firstname.lastname@example.org
During the past few months, City Council and I have locked horns — not on the value of Costco as an addition to Westgate Village — but on the incentive package that has been provided Costco, plus at an earlier date, the appearance of the site Costco wishes to locate upon. As we have locked horns, each side has dug in, and when that happens, wisdom often vanishes.
When I visited Costco in Brighton, Mich., there was much about the interior operation of the store I was impressed with. I do believe Costco will make a solid contribution to the consumers of the community.
It is the incentive package that City Council and the Jack Ford administration put together that is deeply flawed.
For those on City Council who consider themselves friends of business, the only business benefiting from the following financial benefits offered to Costco is Costco:
Costco will save $7.2 million in property taxes during the next 15 years. That’s a loss of $7.2 million to our community.
City Council will pay $300,000 to Washington Local Schools from the City’s General Fund, at a time when our budget is so strapped we have not yet completed negotiations with our police and fire unions. That’s a $300,000 loss to city coffers. That is a deep concern to me and I’m sure it is to each of you.
$500,000 in water-sewer lines will be expended on behalf of this project. In addition, County Commissioner Pete Gerken has indicated since Costco employees will not make a living wage, the county could spend up to $300,000 providing financial assistance to some of those employees.
To my business friends on City Council, that is $800,000 of our citizens’ tax dollars going to a retail store, and more than
$7.2 million of future tax relief to that same store, one of the most prosperous such stores in America.
Less than 2.5 miles from this Costco store is The Andersons, a Northwest Ohio-based competitor of Costco that has been contributing to improvements in Toledo’s quality of life for decades and has sought little assistance from this city. Thus, we are handing a huge financial incentive to an out-of-town corporation, who has yet done nothing to boost our quality of life. Such a boost can obviously hurt The Andersons and other retail stores in this area.
Additionally, this incentive package allows Costco to duck paying taxes, while it squeezes small businesses, who are required to pay taxes, out of business.
Finally, what will we say to our future retailers, both from Toledo and outside of Toledo, who wish to get the same incentive package? What we will have to say is, ”We cannot afford to repeat the Costco package of incentives ever again!”
Because of such generosity to Costco, I cannot support the living wage waiver. At the very least, Costco should agree to pay the minimum standard of living wage established by Toledo City Council.
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