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Holland Tool & Die Tax Break up for debate | News

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Holland Tool & Die Tax Break up for debate
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HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) - Working tax free - that's the state incentive some in the tool and die industry were granted to keep them afloat.  Holland could vote to get rid of the tax break.  Tool and die companies in Holland make parts for the auto industry.  With the slumping auto production, a total of three companies want tax breaks.  But with city lay-offs, Holland officials say funds are tight.

At STM Manufacturing, workers have been making parts for the auto industry since the 1970's.  But President Roger Blauwkamp says that's becoming harder to do with slowing auto production, and international competitors like china.

Blauwkamp says, "They pay labor of $3 an hour.  How is an American company going to compete?  It makes it near impossible for us."

To "even" the playing field Michigan passed a 15 year tax break for tool and die companies - if local municipalities agree. Holland gave STM a 3 year break saving the company $80,000 a year, but Blauwkamp says he needs a 6 year extension.

"Our business is very equipment intensive if we don't keep up with state of the art equipment we're not going to compete."

Two other tool and die companies either want an extension, or to join the incentive program.  So far the city has lost $100,000 tax dollars from the program, and if the requests are approved, city officials estimate Holland could lose more than $700,000 tax dollars.

Still, council member Nancy De Boer is considering the request, but says the city itself had 36 lay offs.

"We feel a little endangered as an employment base here and we really want to keep services going in the city to keep up the quality of life."

Instead of getting rid of the program, Holland could also cap it at six years, but Blauwkamp says it will put his company at a disadvantage.  He says most tool and die companies in the state got the full 15 year break.  He says he wants to keep residents employed, and manufacturing competitive.

"By people having good paying jobs we have less foreclosures and the end result, we believe it brings more money into the city, not less."

Holland Council Members will have the final say during Wednesday's vote.  The meeting at city hall starts at 7:00p.m.

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