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American Outdoor Brands tax break proposal heard by Boone County Commission

The Boone County Commission is now set to decide the fate of the third Chapter 100 tax proposal in six months.

American Outdoor Brands, known for making Smith & Wesson guns, is asking for a 50 percent tax break to build a new distribution center off Route Z in Columbia. The taxing entities of Boone County already unanimously approved the break.

Those include Columbia Public Schools, the Daniel Boone Regional Library, Boone County Family Resources, the Boone County Fire Protection District and Boone County.

The potential tax break for American Outdoor Brands is significantly less than the abatement given to Kraft Heinz and Aurora Organic Dairy. The commission approved both those policies, but not with out criticism from residents who felt like it was too much.

“The one for Aurora Dairy and the one for Kraft Heinz, have both been for 75 percent,” Boone County Commissioner Fred Parry said. “Really those exceed our Chapter 100 policy and AOB is asking for just 50 percent and that seems reasonable for us from just a policy standpoint.”

After the commission is finished with AOB, it plans to revisit the entire Chapter 100 policy to update and improve it.

“We want to do everything we can to hold our schools and libraries harmless and make sure that they’re not being adversely affected by a tax abatement,” Parry said. “But I also believe we have to hold economic development officials and certainly companies that are coming to Columbia to a higher standard.”

Parry said the AOB is the type of plan they would use as a model for the new policy.

“For the most part, AOB has helped shape our thinking about the Chapter 100 policy because they do offer a certain number of new jobs and they offer an investment in our community that seems to meet the requirement of a project that would be worthy of tax abatement,” he said.

Parry said they would like to set certain standards and increase the transparency in these types of agreements.

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