Cowley County commissioners tabled two requests for business tax exemptions, approved one and set a hearing for a fourth at their Tuesday morning meeting.

According to Cowley First Economic Development Director Kerri Falletti, this is the first time commissioners have deferred action on such requests.

The two applications that were tabled were from Winfield Industrial Properties/Zeeco, Inc. and LLC/Care Giver Bed Company, both located at Strother Field. The companies already have the tax exemption but they must be renewed yearly. In order to get the renewals, companies fill out a form that includes such information as: is the building being used for the same thing; has ownership changed; has the company increased its number of jobs or held steady; has company growth continued or been maintained.

The point of the tax exemptions, said Commission Chair Alan Groom, is to encourage companies in their growth, which in turn improves the county’s economy.

The Zeeco representative, Marlon Goodman, who attended the meeting via Zoom, could not provide the number of employees at the Winfield plant, so there was no way for commissioners to judge the growth of the company. He did say the pandemic had affected the number of employees at the plant and the business itself, though he did not provide evidence to show those effects.

Zeeco’s annual estimated savings from the tax break is $80,171, according to documents provided by the county. 

Groom told Goodman and Falletti that he would be hard-pressed to vote for continuing the tax exemption if the company did not have available such basic information as employee numbers, so he said the action would have to be tabled until the next meeting when Zeeco provides the needed information.

According to the information provided by LLC/Care Giver Bed

Company, the company “had a significant negative impact due to COVID 19.” Because of the pandemic, hospitals would not let people other than patients in. Thus there was no need for the care giver beds, so sales “went to zero” in a few days, and the company had to lay off most of the employees.

Currently, they expect to restart the business, but “to be totally candid I don’t know when that will be,” wrote company president Hal Mccoy. That

 led Groom to ask that action on the tax exemption also be tabled until the next meeting.

“We wanted to get away from just giving the exemptions automatically,” Groom said. In order to make good decisions, commissioners need thorough information, he said.

The bed company’s estimated annual savings from the tax break is $34,065.

The commission approved the continued tax exemption for Vector Technologies, which is in its seventh year of a 10-year exemption. According to information provided by Falletti, the company has 67 employees and is holding that number.

Vector can expect to save $17,325 in 2020 property taxes, according to county documents. 

The commission set a hearing for Silverdale Quality Stone that has asked for a economic development tax exemption on a newly built building which enables them to make more slabs to fill increased orders. The company has increased the number of employees to 17 and is looking to hire three more.

The application for the exemption was held until the valuation of the building was complete. A hearing has been set for 6 p.m. April 20 at the commission meeting.

County documents did not make clear a projected savings for Silverdale but showed the company’s total taxes at $24,990.

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