Lawrence City Commission gives final approval on tax breaks for First Management headquarters

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Lawrence city commissioners on Tuesday took a final vote to approve tax breaks for First Management Inc. to renovate a long-vacant downtown building into its corporate headquarters.

Doug Compton, owner of First Management and First Construction, will receive a 15-year, 65% property tax rebate via a Neighborhood Revitalization Area (NRA) incentive to redevelop the former Borders building at 700 New Hampshire St. First Management’s construction materials will also be fully exempt from sales tax. (See more coverage of the project at the links below.)

Commissioner Courtney Shipley asked that the item be pulled from the meeting’s consent agenda for voting purposes and spoke briefly about why she was opposed to the request.

“I don’t think we should encourage landlords to allow property to fall into disrepair and then reward them by giving them incentives,” Shipley said.

The Lawrence school board on Aug. 14 voted 4-3 to approve the district’s share of the tax breaks, and the Douglas County Commission on Aug. 16 voted 2-1 to approve the county’s share.

In their initial vote on Aug. 1, city commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the sales tax incentive; Shipley cast the opposing vote. Shipley and Mayor Lisa Larsen both voted against the NRA incentive. 

Vice Mayor Bart Littlejohn and commissioners Brad Finkeldei and Amber Sellers on Tuesday voted to approve the tax incentive package; Larsen and Shipley opposed.

Altogether, sales tax exemptions from the city, county and state, plus property tax breaks from the city, county and school district are estimated at $680,759, according to previous meeting agendas.

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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