City Manager: ‘It might be nice if there was a utopia where everyone played with the same rule book’

Novi administrator explains how and why city gives out tax abatements

Novi City Manager Pete Auger. Image from Flickr.

Editor’s note: Pete Auger, city manager for the city of Novi, Michigan, explains his employer’s policy on tax abatements.

The State of Michigan offers very few tools for local units of government to use for economic development. The City of Novi utilizes those tools to attract, retain and grow businesses in our community.

It might be nice if there was a utopia where everyone played with the same rule book, but in the real world we compete with other regions, states and countries as a premiere place to locate and grow businesses. We have competed against places that give away land, cash incentives and build out infrastructure in order to attract some of these same companies. Corporate decision makers and individual owners weigh all the information when making decisions on where to locate for the next twenty years. Tax incentives are one of the tools the State Legislature has given us to help us compete with the other states and nations. Our abatements are small in nature compared to what companies are receiving around the world, but coupled with the other important community items we focus on it keeps us at the table in attracting and retaining jobs.

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The City of Novi does not go around seeking businesses to give abatements to. The businesses given them actively approached the City, completed an application and met State and local criteria for an abatement.

In totality, our City council has done a great job setting up a community where we are financially stable, one of only twelve AAA Bond rated municipalities in the state. The four K-12 public school districts and one catholic school are all performing well in their endeavors.

We have over 1,200 acres of parkland and continue to expand our non-motorized routes. Our Novi Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department earned National Accreditation, becoming one of only 155 accredited agencies nationwide. Likewise, Novi’s Police Department just received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). This is known as the “gold standard” in law enforcement accreditation, less than four percent of law enforcement agencies in the country have earned this prestigious honor, including just nine others in Michigan.

I could go on and on about programs, services, and location which paint the entire Novi picture. Like every successful organization we will continue to improve on what we do and how we do it. Economic Development is a part of our continued efforts to be one of the premier communities that continue to attract high paying jobs and business investments.


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