The figures were prepared by Ernst & Young in response to a new reporting requirement.
Tax abatements are a government program that eliminates or significantly reduces property taxes as an incentive for growth. In Fulton, the county has a standard abatement that reduces property taxes by 25 percent over a decade. They start with a 50 percent discount in the first year that is reduced by 5 percentage points annually until the company is paying full freight in year 10.
Critics say the incentives are unnecessary tax giveaways, and question whether they’re fair to people and businesses that have to pay full tax bills. But proponents say they help bring new development to areas that might need extra help.
"Tax abatements are an economic development tool," Fulton County manager Dick Anderson said.
The county’s calculations look back at all active deals in 2016 — those that are in the first year of abatement and those in the last. They don’t include any deals that were made where construction hasn’t begun yet.
All told, there were 56 deals in that period, said Al Nash, the CEO of Select Fulton, the county’s development arm.
“Our job is to grow the tax base,” Nash said. “A lot of deals we’re doing are new dollars that never would have hit.”
The county also said over 10 years, the businesses that received tax abatements brought 30,165 full and part-time jobs to the county. Of those, about 27,000 were new jobs, and the rest were jobs that might have left the area if not for the incentives.
It also listed the industries that are collecting abatements. They are office buildings, data centers, apartments, retail and restaurants, hotels, warehouses, manufacturing facilities and parking facilities.
The county hopes to use the analysis to strengthen its incentive process and ensure that the deals it makes are a proper use of economic development dollars, Anderson said. He said the development authority, the tax assessor's office and the Fulton chief financial officer all have to sign off before a deal is made.
“People have choices,” Nash said. “We want to help when we can to drive these choices.”
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