3 more years of tax breaks for Coleman

The Coleman Co. was given a three-year extension of a tax exemption on a series of industrial revenue bonds Tuesday by the Wichita City Council.

The approval came on a 7-0 vote. City staff had planned to recommend the request be denied, but changed that recommendation after making a property tax adjustment that improved the city's return on investment.

The city decreased the amount of Coleman's exempt property tax from 100 percent to 92.5 percent.

That sweetened the pot for the city, increasing its return on investment up to the required $1.30 for every $1 invested. Negotiations between the city and Coleman resulted in the adjustment.

" (Coleman) is one of our good cooperate citizens," council member Jeff Longwell said.

Coleman has about $100 million in outstanding bonds, said Allen Bell, the city's director of urban development. Coleman has used the bond money in the past decade to expand its plant and buy equipment.

Coleman has invested more than $70 million in its complex on East 37th Street North, Marlyn Ash-Potter, the company's vice president and controller, told the council. City figures put the investment at about $55 million.

Regardless, neither figure was enough to bring the return on investment up to the required amount.

City staff had initially recommended against exempting taxes on the expansion because the company never hired the 200 workers it had planned.

Coleman's employment total dropped from 1,127 in 1999 to 1,093 in May.

The decrease came because Coleman shifted jobs away from production toward headquarters operations. But the payroll total went up with the change, increasing from the 1999 level of $38 million annually to the current $43 million.