Tax abatements are one of those things that people seem to either appreciate or hate, with little middle ground for compromise.
Alpena Municipal Council received the city's report card on tax abatements this week, and by and large the news was positive. More often than not the abatements resulted in more hires, and more investment, than what the companies who had sought them had initially projected.
Even with those companies whose numbers were right around their original projections, the abatements seem to have made sense and were a good thing.
But, as in past reports, there was one bad apple in the mix - ATI Casting, who City Clerk/Treasurer Karen Hebert said is closed and apparently won't reopen.
Unfortunately, whenever there is a negative story like ATI in the mix, it tends to sour the otherwise positive report that council received.
Still, at the end of the day, city residents need to consider the tax revenue they traded for the benefits of more investment and more employment by the companies involved. Is the community better today than it was at the time the abatement was made?
Overall, we believe tax abatements are an important tool in economic development efforts. As long as they aren't distributed like candy on Halloween, abatements should work like they have in the instances of Panel Processing and Conveyor System Inc., two impressive success stories.
We support communities that use tax abatements prudently. Certainly their use is a gamble at times, and occasionally a community will get burnt. But overall, we think a community stands to gain more than it will lose through a well researched and conservative tax abatement program.