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September 28, 1993

We're Still #1

by Edmund Tsang

Mobile County still leads the state in properties financed by industrial development boards (IDBs) and in revenue lost through IDB exemptions, when data from companies that were filed with the State Department of Revenue by the original deadline of January 1, 1993 are added to those that were filed by the extended deadline of April 30, 1993. The State Department of Revenue released the updated information in Supplemental Report of Tax Exempt Real and Personal Property by Lessee for the State of Alabama in August, 1993; the original report was released in May, 1993. In Mobile County, the total property value and revenue loss from the 13 companies listed in the supplemental report are one- half of those from 53 companies listed in the original report.

With a total property value (real plus personal) of $1.339 billion, IDB financed projects in Mobile County place just ahead of the second highest, Monroe County, which has a total property value of $1.275 billion. But in terms of tax revenue loss due to IDB exemptions, Mobile County's revenue loss of $12.4 million is almost 60 percent greater than second place Jefferson County's $7.8 million. In Alabama, $10.4 billion in property is financed by IDB, resulting in a total of $77.1 million in tax revenue loss. Of the revenue loss, $24.7 million in the state and $4.7 million in Mobile County are for the public schools.

The Alabama Legislature passed Alabama Act 92-599 last year, which requires all IDB-financed properties to file with the county tax assessor who in turn must calculate an estimate of tax revenue loss and forward the data to the State Department of Revenue. Before the May report, there was no official accounting of the revenue loss due to IDB exemptions.

Even with the supplemental report, the information for Mobile County is incomplete because more than 30 companies did not file by the end of the extension period. Also, the value of the property reported by companies in the two reports is underestimated because they use "book value" instead of "fair market value," Danny Dewberry of the State Department of Revenue, Ad Valorem Tax Office told The Harbinger in June.

IDB-financed companies from Mobile County that have not filed by the end of the extension period of April 30, 1993 include: Alabama Power Company, Clay Hyder Trucking, Coastal Fuels, Deep Sea Foods, G.T. Southern Wood Preservation, Halliburton, Hab Inc., Institutional Distributing Realty, L&N Railroad, Weaver & Sons Inc., Citronelle Railroad Station, Northside Clinics, Family Medical Prof. Corp., Lynwood Nursing Home, Monroe Project, C.T. Realty Terminal D/B/A Cove Mertime, Coca Cola Bottling Co.-Locker Room, Gulf Clarklift Mat. D/B/A Clarklift of Alabama, Holiday Inn D/B/A Wencostel, I.B. Chemical, J.P. McDavid D/B/A Bay Paper Company, Warehouse Associated, World Omni, Charter Southland Hospital, Bay Area Center For Psychiatry, Family Medical West & Serological Center, Mobile Heart Center, Providence Building Corp., Southern Medical of Tyson, Kinder Care, and Yuille.

Using additional records from the Mobile County Revenue Commissioner's office, the Mobile County Probate Court, and other sources, The Harbinger determined that another $149 million in IDB bonds were issued to companies that are not included in the supplemental report, with a corresponding total tax revenue loss of $1.3 million (about $600,000 is lost to the public schools).

Last week, Dewberry said the August report is "the last," adding that any additional filings received by the state revenue office will be kept on file but will not be forwarded to the Alabama Legislature.

Glenn Ford of the Mobile County Tax Assessor's Office said his office "has contacted some of the larger companies" that have not filed. Ford said penalties ($50 per month of non-compliance) will be issued to companies that did not comply with the reporting requirement. "We are also researching the matter of pollution control bonds to see whether they are subject to taxes," Ford added. "We need to do more research."

The City of Mobile IDB has issued $37 in million pollution control bonds to Alabama Power, Huls, and International Paper Company, according to minutes from 1988 to 1992 of the City of Mobile IDB. Minutes also showed that pollution control bonds of unknown value were awarded to Courtauld Fibers in 1976. The plant, which produces rayon, led the state in total amount of toxic substances - - 42,927,625 pounds -- released in 1991 into the environment.

-- September 28, 1993


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