FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Amazon’s Fort Wayne expansion won’t be as cheap as expected.
"In my nine years in office, we’ve never turned anything down like this," said Councilman Geoff Paddock.
Some of the councilmembers who voted against it said one of the country’s largest companies, owned by the world’s richest man, could afford to pay the taxes.
But Paddock says these kind of incentives are common for attracting large companies like Amazon.
He says the councilmembers who outvoted him aren’t holding up their side of the deal.
"There’s an old saying. ‘You can’t change the rules of the ballgame in the middle of the ballgame.’ And that’s kind of what I felt like we were doing last night by not following our policy," Paddock said.
The city granted another company an over $15 million tax break to build a facility on Flaugh road, which Amazon plans to lease.
Now Amazon won’t get their tax break, but economist Dr. Joshua Long at Indiana Tech says he doesn’t expect that to affect Fort Wayne’s future with the company.
"I think the odds of them saying, ‘We’re going to stop all operations in this community’ is next to nil at this point. Because they’re here. They’re operating in our community. They’re expanding into our community," Long said. "They picked us for a particular reason, and it goes beyond tax abatements."
Community Development Director Nancy Townsend says she’s not as worried about Amazon, but more so how other potential employers may view Fort Wayne.
"If the message goes out that maybe even if you follow the rules, you meet all the qualifications, you meet all the policies, and you came through, that we might not. So we’re concerned with that," Townsend said.
Townsend says City Council has routinely given tax breaks in the name of economic development before.
And Amazon checked all the boxes required of them.
She thinks the five councilmembers got too hung up on Amazon’s poor public image.
"This one just … I think may have the potential for greater impacts than they realize," Townsend said.
FOX 55 reached out to Amazon, but representatives said they had no comment.