Monroe approves tax deal for new Kroger distribution center, but one council member had strong comments

After weeks of discussion and negotiations, Monroe City Council on Tuesday voted 4-2 to approve a Community Reinvestment Area tax abatement for the new Kroger distribution center on Ohio 63.

Council approved a 10-year, 50 percent tax abatement for property improvements.

However, Vice Mayor Dan Clark and Councilman Todd Hickman voted against the ordinance as they did at the Nov. 27 meeting when it was given a first reading. Councilman Jason Frentzel was absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

“I don’t like warehouses,” Clark said. “We need more sophisticated businesses in Monroe that will bring higher-wage earners.”

In November, Clark and Hickman both said there have already been too many tax breaks awarded to warehouse projects in the city and not for other types of businesses. At that time, Clark said that “Kroger pulled in $2 billion last year, and they should pay their fair share of taxes. Kroger doesn’t need a tax break on the backs of Monroe taxpayers.”

Hickman said Tuesday that “billionaires don’t need tax breaks. We don’t need more warehouses. We need to expand the business base.”

In November, Hickman questioned why tax breaks should be given for companies when local taxpayers are being asked to support additional tax levies.

The Kroger Co. will be investing close to $55 million to build a 335,000-square-foot warehouse/distribution center at 6266 Hamilton-Lebanon Road/Ohio 63, and it plans to employ as many as 410 permanent full-time employees, according to the CRA tax abatement application.

Of the $55 million investment, Kroger will be spending $3.7 million in real property improvements, $41.8 million in new construction and $9.5 million in new machinery and equipment. Construction is expected to begin on Sept. 1 with a projected completion by Dec. 31, 2020. Officials said the construction project was subject to securing state and local incentives.

According to CRA application, Kroger said the robotic distribution facility will also include warehousing operations, delivery functions for grocery products, and engineers to support the smart robotic platform.

Kroger anticipates hiring for the newly created jobs to begin in January 2021 and continue incrementally over the following three years, according to the application. The company is projecting an annual payroll of $18.8 million, according to the application.

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