FRANKFORT, Ind. (WLFI) - A new grocery store could be making its way to Frankfort. But first, the city council must decide if the retail business should be given tax breaks.
Councilman Eric Woods is against the idea, but said it's not because he owns a grocery store in town. He said it's because the proposed grocery store is a retail business.
For at least a decade, it's been an empty lot where a Kmart use to sit off Hoke Avenue in Frankfort. But eventually, it could be home to Ruler Foods, a discounted subsidiary of Kroger.
The catch? Ruler Foods is expected to ask the city for a 7-year tax abatement to phase in their property taxes.
"Kroger and Ruler Foods are wanting to come to the community and are asking for a real property abatement to offset their cost of tax abatement on a yearly basis for that parcel of ground that they will be purchasing," explained Mayor Chris McBarnes.
McBarnes said he welcomes Ruler Foods and the proposed $2.24 million investment to the city of Frankfort. He just doesn't want the taxpayers to be burdened by the addition.
Woods agrees. While Woods' family has own Schulz IGA for years, he said he's not worried about another grocery store coming to town. He's worried about giving a retail business a tax break.
"I will handle this issue with the same unbiased and objective approach as I have all my other decisions on the council and I would handle it the exact same way as if it were an auto parts store or a dentist office that was looking to go on that property," Woods said.
Woods said the council has approved tax abatements for companies in the industrial park that invest several million dollars and bring a number of full-time jobs. But he's concerned about the number of jobs Ruler Foods will bring to town.
"By their own statement of benefit, would have two full-time jobs and approximately 20 part-time jobs," Woods explained.
The council is scheduled for a third and final vote Monday to designate the area as an economic revitalization area. If it passes, Kroger executives are expected to ask the council for the tax abatement.
"The decision that our councilors have to make on Monday night (are) one: Do we grant them a tax abatement? Yes or no. Two: If so, how many years do we want that abatement to be spread over?" said McBarnes.
McBarnes said it is unclear at this time if Kroger and Ruler Foods will still want to open the grocery store in Frankfort if the council does not grant them a tax break
If the council passes the tax abatement on first reading Monday, a public hearing will be held at next month's meeting. McBarnes encourages residents to come out and voice their opinions about bringing Ruler Foods to the city.
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