BRISTOL — Though two companies filed late tax abatement paperwork in Bristol this year, only one will be subjected to a penalty.
Three manufacturers have tax abatements in Bristol. Utilimaster has a 10-year abatement ending in 2022, having ended a three-year one in 2015. Satellite Industries has a three-year abatement ending in 2021, following its five-year arrangement that ended in 2018. Monogram Foods had two three-year tax abatements, the first ending in 2018 and the second set to end at the end of 2019.
While both Monogram Foods and Satellite Industries sent their tax forms to the town late, only Satellite’s tax abatement will be renewed without penalty for the coming year.
“They came here last year stating that they would never let this happen,” councilwoman Cathy Burke said of Monogram Foods’ late filing during Bristol’s council meeting Thursday. “A woman came personally from Tennessee.”
Council president Jeff Beachy made a motion not to waive Monogram’s late-filing fee.
The filing deadline is April 15, but Monogram’s paperwork was postmarked May 15.
The company had requested a three-year tax abatement on its investment of $3,655,000 in property improvements and $8,326,000 in new equipment in 2015. In 2016 it announced plans to invest $13 million in Bristol and hired 74 employees.
Satellite Industries’ late paperwork arrived June 20. Despite also being late last year, the town elected to renew the company’s abatement and waive the late-filing fee.
Town attorney Glenn Duncan said last year he informed Satellite Industries, which is headquartered in Minneapolis, that lack of knowledge of Indiana law is not an excuse for late filing.
“They have diligently filed their (abatement) every year in the past, however, in those years I have always gotten a call, ‘Can you help me with these forms?’”
He told the quorum he was called by the company early in the year seeking names of local accountants to help file this year’s abatement paperwork and he offered up a few names.
In previous years, Duncan assisted companies filing for abatements as they sorted through various state statutes and paperwork, but the council found it unfair to Duncan, since he is not hired to serve those businesses.
Beachy suggested during the 2018 discussion that a standard be created declaring that out-of-state businesses be required to hire a local accountant or lawyer to help them file their paperwork to ensure taxes are filed properly and on time, though no action was taken on it during that time.
Town manager Mitch Mitchell suggested during a discussion of late filings in 2018 that as a standard, companies should be permitted one late filing, but after that, be held to the deadline, losing their abatement if filing is late.
Nonetheless, Satellite did employ the services of an accounting firm, which sent the completed forms to the company in March, but company officials forgot to file it with the town of Bristol. Along with the recently received paperwork, Satellite submitted a letter explaining what had happened.
“They are otherwise in compliance and have met the investment dollar amount, real estate and the number of employees,” Duncan said. Satellite Industries this month completed nearly $8 million worth of expansion projects that provided 60 jobs.
The board motioned to waive the late filing fee and allow Satellite’s tax abatement this year.
Other items addressed at council meeting:
Bristol Park Board says if the rain continues, it may have to change the location for the Bristol Homecoming. An outrigger system used to anchor the rides can sink into the soft soil at the park, creating a safety hazard if the ground is too wet. Discussions mounted about where an appropriate alternative location might be, ranging from the school yard to the church parking lot. The Bristol Parks Department will also not be hosting its summer children’s programming due to an inability to find a program director.