Benton trustees approve 12-year tax abatement

By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium

BENTON TOWNSHIP — A Benton Township food processing company gained a 12-year tax abatement Tuesday night.

After no public comment during the public hearing, the Board of Trustees voted 5-1 in favor of an abatement application from Great Lakes Farmers Distribution Center LLC  – also known as Pero Family Farms Food Co. The tax abatement will give the company a 50 percent township tax break over the next 12 years.

Trustee Cathy Yates cast the lone vote against the abatement. She said she would have preferred the abatement be made shorter.

The tax relief will apply to a $1.19 million project, which includes an 8,300-square-foot expansion to the company’s 2130 Yore Ave. location. Cornerstone Alliance, which is helping Pero Family Farms with its application, had a representative there to give a presentation.

According to the abatement application, the expansion would accommodate the company’s “growth in sales.” No new jobs are expected from the expansion. However, the 50 existing jobs would be retained.

Superintendent Elden Piontek said he recommended the board approve the application.

“It’s a good idea. They have shown the commitment to stay and expand in the township,” Piontek said. “Tax break terms are a bit misleading because we are still collecting 50 percent more of what we weren’t.”

Treasurer Debbie Boothby was not present for the vote. However, among the board members in support of the abatement was Supervisor Kevin White.

“Benton Charter Township is pleased at Pero Farms’ commitment to our community, as well as its continued growth,” he said.

Previous encounter

The same company was given a 10-year tax abatement for its renovation project by trustees in September.

However, after a few residents and trustees voiced concerns about the length of the abatement – originally proposed to last 12 years – a motion was made for a tax abatement lasting 10 years. That expansion project’s total cost was an estimated $3.5 million.

The business has operated in the township for a decade before it announced plans to retrofit its building to include fresh-cut vegetable processing.

The renovation allows the seasonal company to become a year-round operation.

Great Lakes Farmers Distribution Center representatives told trustees in September the company would retain its 50 employees and create about 74 jobs over the next three years as a result of the renovation.

Contact Tony Wittkowski at twittkowski@TheHP.com or (269) 932-0358. Follow him on Twitter: @tonywittkowski.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on March 2, 2016)

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