Okayed by 3-2 vote
The Greene County board of supervisors at its June 1 meeting approved a tax abatement for the Thomas Jefferson Gardens by a 3-2 vote, with chair John Muir voting last to break a 2-2 vote.
Supervisors Guy Richardson and Dawn Rudolph voted for the abatement; Tom Contner and Mick Burkett voted against. The total tax abated was $2,412.
Thomas Jefferson Gardens is southeast of the courthouse. The building, which most recently housed Advantage Insurance, was purchased from Ed and Denise Smith. TJG took possession of the building several months before the closing on the sale so that work on the exterior could begin before Vision Iowa grant funds were paid. The Smiths paid property taxes as stated in the purchase agreement.
As a non-profit organization, TJG property is eligible for a tax exemption, but the paperwork wasn’t filed in time to avoid a 2014 tax bill. It is 2014 taxes the supervisors abated.
The TJG board and the Greene County Chamber envision the building as a Welcome Center with public restrooms. Rudolph on Monday again stated support for that project, noting that public restrooms would be beneficial.
The discomfort with allowing the abatement was in timing and consideration of other taxing entities. The assessment was part of the total figure used to calculate budgets for FY ’15, so the county, the city of Jefferson, and the Greene County school district will all receive less tax revenue than they budgeted for. “We ultimately will get some benefit (from the Welcome Center), and the city will. The school won’t,” Muir said.
The supervisors took similar action a year ago for the Sierra Community Theatre.