Fellsmere voters to decide if new businesses get tax break

FELLSMERE – Voters in the City of Fellsmere will get the chance to tell city leaders whether or not they want the city to offer tax breaks to companies that expand or build in the city and bring jobs.

The Fellsmere City Council approved a tax abatement referendum similar to that of the City of Sebastian’s, which was overwhelmingly approved last November. City Manager Jason Nunemaker explained to the council Thursday evening that businesses that apply for the tax abatement would be treated equally regardless of whether they are a Wal-Mart or a mom-and-pop business.

The tax abatement the city would offer to businesses would freeze a percentage of the business’s property tax for a certain period of time based on a several factors.

Those factors would include the number of jobs, the wages the jobs would pay, and the amount of money the business would be investing in the property within the city’s limits.

The maximum a business could receive would be a 100 percent property tax freeze – setting it at the current amount – for a full 10 years.

Without the tax abatement, as business owners expand or build new, their property values tend to increase. That increase leads to more property taxes being collected.

City Councilman Joel Tyson asked if the tax abatement referendum’s approval would impact the city’s redevelopment fund.

Nunemaker explained that the abatement would not cause the redevelopment fund to diminish, “it just won’t add to it.”

Indian River County Commissioners this week also approved their own tax abatement referendum all county voters will be able to weigh in on. The City of Vero Beach, too, is expected to ask city voters for the same support in offering the commercial tax breaks.

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