U.S.A.:Ford plant avoids paying $13 million licensing fee to operate in Mo. town
By Associated Press
LIBERTY, Mo. -- The Ford Motor Co. does not have to pay a business licensing fee for operating its plant in suburban Kansas City, a judge has ruled.
The Claycomo fee could have cost the auto maker an additional $13 million a year in taxes.
Circuit Court Judge David Russell ruled Tuesday that Ford is not a merchant and thus under Claycomo's ordinance is not subject to the license fee.
At issue was a measure approved last year by Claycomo voters that charges businesses a license fee of 0.1 percent of their annual gross receipts with a minimum of $25. Under the city ordinance, Ford's annual fee could have jumped from $25 to $13 million, company officials said.
Claycomo officials maintain the fee is justified because the plant places a significant burden on police and fire departments and other city services.
Company officials said the auto manufacturer could not absorb such a cost each year and remain competitive.
Earlier this year Ford paid a $25 fee under protest, said company attorney James Owen. He called the new tax an abrupt change.
"We wanted to be a good corporate citizen," Owen said. "We always have."
Ford spokeswoman Della DiPietro said company officials are pleased with the judge's decision. She said the 4.6 million-square-foot plant pays about $9 million a year in local taxes. That's the second highest amount paid by the auto maker in taxes nationwide in terms of rates per square foot.
Jeffrey Simon, an attorney representing the city, declined to comment to The Associated Press on Wednesday about the judge's ruling. Claycomo City administrator Lois Anderson was not in the office.
The license fee had been disputed for more than a year.
Last May, Ford filed a lawsuit in Clay County Circuit Court challenging the constitutionality of the Claycomo ordinance. Ford's lawsuit argued that the plant generates considerable economic activity outside Claycomo and to impose additional taxes was illegal and unfair.
In December, Claycomo filed a counter lawsuit against Ford, saying the license fee was legal. The city soon began issuing tickets to Ford officials because they had failed to have a business license.
The city later dismissed the tickets because efforts to resolve the legal dispute between the two sides were continuing.
As a result of the dispute, state lawmakers considered a measure changing the governmental boundaries so that the assembly plant could be moved out of Claycomo and into neighboring Liberty. The measure failed.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....