Don’t extend businessman special deals
Warren businessman Christopher Alan is wrong to demand special treatment from governmental entities — especially until he starts to show evidence of growth and employment in a community that has been more than willing to assist him in his endeavors to this point.
And the city is wrong to continue to cave to Alan’s demands.
Alan’s companies are in arrears on tax payments amounting to more than $280,000 for the eight Dana Street properties and about $111,000 more for a Griswold property that his companies own.
Much of those back taxes existed when Alan took possession. Alan’s companies, Dorian Capital Investments Inc. and Raider Trading Limited LLC, took ownership of several former Warren factory buildings, including those previously operated as Delphi, Packard and General Electric.
As part of the deal, Alan agreed in bankruptcy filings to pay back taxes owed on the properties, which is why Trumbull County Treasurer Sam Lamancusa said he agreed to the sale without the taxes being paid up front. The price for the properties was kept low because the properties had declined in value and had back taxes. Further, an environmental assessment done before the properties were sold to Alan’s companies showed it could cost up to $2 million to do environmental cleanups, according to the bankruptcy documents.
Instead of paying the back taxes up front, Lamancusa set up a payment plan for Alan, but he violated the terms and last month received a letter informing him that foreclosure proceedings would begin unless he took some action. Alan owes $111,694 on the Griswold property owned by Dorian Capital, according to Lamancusa and property records. He owes $280,187 for the eight Dana Street properties owned by Raider Trading.
Alan now is demanding reappraisals for the properties and has threatened to leave town if that doesn’t happen.
“If ultimately they won’t do an assessment on that property, then we will make a decision on whether or not we want it. I didn’t pay that much; I could walk away. I may be in the position that I change my mind and don’t want it,” Alan said recently.
But property reappraisals are handled by the board of revision and applications for revaluations are accepted only from January to March — starting about a month after $39,000 in taxes are due under Alan’s payment plan.
Alan also continues to demand that a public thoroughfare on Warren’s northwest side remain blocked because he claims it assists in keeping down acts of vandalism on the industrial buildings where he says he is attempting to grow a manufacturing business. Until now, and to the frustration of residents and some businesses in that part of the city, Warren city officials have agreed to his demands.
Vandalism concerns, however, are not a legitimate reason to close a public street.
Indeed, new traffic into the area triggered by increasing numbers of employees, contractors or ongoing physical improvements would be a better way to thwart would-be vandals. Unfortunately, so far, we’ve seen little of that.
Alan has declined to provide proof to a Tribune Chronicle reporter who asked in recent weeks for data about his existing personnel or payroll. He says he employs about 50 workers and has an annual payroll of about $1 million.
Warren officials must not bend to unreasonable requests of a businessman for special treatment. Such actions set the stage for further outlandish requests and makes the city appear desperate for development.
Rather, the city should promote the benefits of doing business here and work to raise the bar on its value.