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Amazon.com seeks tax break from Stoughton

Selectmen have OK’d a plan for an Amazon shipping plant that will go before Special Town Meeting voters on Sept. 8.

Reuters/File

Selectmen have OK’d a plan for an Amazon shipping plant that will go before Special Town Meeting voters on Sept. 8.

Stoughton voters will be asked at Special Town Meeting on Sept. 8 to approve tax breaks for the online retail giant Amazon.com in exchange for the firm agreeing to lease a distribution site in town.

Town officials say the company plans to operate a warehouse and distribution center at the former site of a Reebok outlet and distribution center on Technology Drive. Amazon is expected to hire as many as 125 people full time and hundreds more as part-time and seasonal help in the planned 328,104-square-foot package- handling facility.

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Town Manager Michael Hartman said Amazon is expected to invest $3 million in improvements to the existing building and spend $17 million on machinery and equipment. He said Amazon officials have told him that they expect to be running by Nov. 3, contingent on reaching final agreement on a lease with the owner of the property and on Town Meeting approval of the deal, and that they have already begun the hiring process.

Hartman negotiated the terms of a proposed Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, agreement with Amazon, part of a deal in which the Seattle-based retail giant would also receive tax credits from the state. He worked under a nondisclosure agreement that kept details of the pact under wraps until selectmen voted Aug. 11 to approve the deal.

Under the agreement, the town will waive for 10 years a portion of the property taxes due on the machinery, equipment, and other contents of the building. The waiver will be 100 percent for the first year of the agreement, decreasing to 33 percent of the assessed value for fiscal 2024.

“We will still make more with the TIF than we would with any other user,” said Selectman T.J. Recupero, who is chairman of the board. He cited how much Amazon intends to spend right away and said that the assessed value of the property for Reebok was between $1.2 million and $1.4 million a year.

The town will continue to receive property taxes from the owner of the site.

Hartman said he believes the proposed deal will be embraced by Town Meeting. “The selectmen passed the agreement unanimously, and I think residents will look favorably on it,” he said.

“This is a great corporate citizen, by reputation, and they see this as a good place to be,” said Selectman Robert O’Regan.

O’Regan said selectmen took note that the company offers comprehensive health plans for permanent employees working 20 hours or more a week. He said selectmen knew there were negotiations going on and had to schedule Special Town Meeting before a deal was finalized in order to provide notice of at least 42 days for the session.

Rich Fahey can be reached at fahey.rich2@gmail.com.
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