It seems negotiations between La Puente’s largest sales tax generator and city officials have really gone south.
I have this story running in today’s paper about Ed Butts Ford owner Tom Iannone’s frustrations with the city, and his unsuccessful bids over more than six years to get assistance from the city to keep his Hacienda Boulevard dealership afloat.
The company has been getting by and has avoided massive layoffs by dipping into its reserve funds. But as the economy continues to tank, they need help. They’ve been asking the city to approve some sort of earn-out program, where the city would loan some of Ed Butts’ sales tax revenue back to the dealership.
Ed Butts brings in about $300,000 annually to city coffers.
City officials, however, contend they just can’t take the risk given the economy and the fact the Ed Butts Ford can’t guarantee the city they will stick around.
“If every city felt that way about their businesses, their largest sales tax providers, they’d be folding right now,” said Michael Hastings, a consultant to Iannone.
Ed Butts Ford is one of the few area Ford dealerships that haven’t shuttered or moved amid a slumping automotive sales market. But that’s not to say Ford Motor Co. hasn’t tried – Tom Iannone said that on several occasions Ford has offered him “millions” of dollars to leave La Puente. He wouldn’t specify how much exactly.
Iannone said he’s shown proof of those offers to city officials before, in hopes they would take his commitment to the community seriously.
Councilman John Solis said he had never seen the offer, but was blunt about saying that
“Ed Butts is very dumb if Ford is offering them that kind of money to go near a freeway and they’re not taking it. Their sales are down 30 percent.”
Solis also blamed Ed Butts for being slow to come to the table on several occasions when negotiations were near finalization.
Iannnone said the city has “all the public’s money tied up,” and accused the city of turning its back on much of the business community in La Puente.
“They’ve closed their doors and walked away from the business owners,” he said. “Not just me, a lot of us.”