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Beech Grove may lose Amtrak facility to Michigan


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#1 KevinKorell

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Posted 10 June 2005 - 08:31 PM

From suburban Indianapolis, IN Southside Times, 6/9/05:

Amtrak may move its Beech Grove maintenance facility and more than 600 local jobs to Michigan, according to Beech Grove Mayor Joe Wright.

The entire story is here.

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#2 Sam Damon

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 01:05 AM

Based on what I've read -- this article and a couple others -- I get the distinct impression that Mayor Wright wants rid of Amtrak. He's under the delusion he's gonna get some other manufacturing firm to put the property back on the tax rolls. Based on what I've seen in the economic development side of government, Wright needs to be the biggest booster of Amtrak in the country. Instead, he's going to preside over the closure of Beech Grove shops, as they head to somewhere in Michigan. Oh, well.

#3 AmtrakFan

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 03:19 PM

I am not sure how and if it will happen. For the simple reason there would be too many economic problems if Amtrak left.

Edited by AmtrakFan, 11 June 2005 - 03:19 PM.

John Poshepny

#4 ICGsteve

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 05:06 PM

Local officials have good reason to be pissed that congress is allowing Amtrak to forgo taxes. If there is any reasonable hope of finding a tax paying employer for the site the locals should ask the freeloader to vacate.

#5 NickG

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Posted 11 June 2005 - 07:17 PM

An earlier post about the Beech Grove property tax issue is here.
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#6 Sam Damon

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 04:56 PM

Local officials have good reason to be pissed that congress is allowing Amtrak to forgo taxes. If there is any reasonable hope of finding a tax paying employer for the site the locals should ask the freeloader to vacate.

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Steve,

Here I have to respectfully disagree.

As a rule, government facilities are off the property tax rolls, everywhere, not just Beech Grove. Now, if we're arguing Amtrak isn't a government agency -- strictly speaking, it isn't -- I would be less inclined to disagree.

What the mayor is missing here is the concept of "offsets." Sure, Amtrak doesn't pay taxes. Their employees, do, shop in Beech Grove, buy homes in Beech Grove, and otherwise pay taxes. If there are no employees, ultimately Beech Grove will have to foot the bill in one form or another for their unemployment. I'm not just talking about unemployment compensation; Amtrak's departure from Beech Grove would have far-reaching consequences this guy really hasn't thought through, IMO.

OTOH, if Hizzoner has thought through the consequences, and wants rid of Amtrak, I say, "great."

If you were locating an Amtrak car shop today, where would you put it? Discuss.

#7 ICGsteve

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Posted 12 June 2005 - 06:32 PM

Sam, Amtrak does pump money into the local economy but they also take. Amtrak is not paying its fair share of the costs of services that it uses. It is not paying the costs for the police, fire, roads, ect ect that local government instead must collect from other tax sources. It is true that the federal government never pays taxes, and I have no problem calling Amtrak a federal agency (it should be), but the feds always have an obligation to soak up some of the costs. On large tracks of federal land the feds pay for roads and have federal police and fire services. Cities that are near military bases have several programs which pump money into local government agencies to compensate for the cost associated with the federal property. In the case of BG, it is clear that local public officials feel that the feds are not giving them a fair shake. I assume that they have a valid reason to reach this conclusion. Still, they should not want to send Amtrak packing unless they are sure that they can get a tax paying owner for the property. Amtrak is indead better than nothing. If we were to decide to make Amtrak into a first world national railroad and thus would want a large major maintainace center I absolutely would locate it in Michigan. The area was for generations the center of the nation's auto industry. Now that America is steadily losing its auto industry there are loads of skilled and hard working craftsmen unemployed, and large plots of land with empty factories on them ready for use. Amtrak would have little trouble creating an operation 50 times the capacity of BG in Michigan. There would be major costs involved to turn auto factories into train factories, but in the end it would be a bargain.

Edited by ICGsteve, 12 June 2005 - 06:48 PM.


#8 Sam Damon

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Posted 13 June 2005 - 09:28 AM

Steve, Your bit about fire and police service fees is interesting. Some states to my knowledge which don't have tax supports for police and fire service charge "Public Safety Fees" and "Fire Service Fees" which everyone has to pay. Apparently, Indiana doesn't have these fees. I bring this up because in the area my television station covers, a university went to state court, arguing the fee was a tax and therefore, they were exempt from it. It will come as no surprise to you they lost, and now pay the fee to the local municipality.

#9 BNSF 1088

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Posted 15 June 2005 - 02:16 PM

Sam, Amtrak does pump money into the local economy but they also take. Amtrak is not paying its fair share of the costs of services that it uses. It is not paying the costs for the police, fire, roads, ect ect that local government instead must collect from other tax sources.

It is true that the federal government never pays taxes, and I have no problem calling Amtrak a federal agency (it should be), but the feds always have an obligation to soak up some of the costs. On large tracks of federal land  the feds pay for roads and have federal police and fire services. Cities that are near military bases have several programs which pump money into local government agencies to compensate for the cost associated with the federal property.

In the case of BG, it is clear that local public officials feel that the feds are not giving them a fair shake. I assume that they have a valid reason to reach this conclusion. Still, they should not want to send Amtrak packing unless they are sure that they can get a tax paying owner for the property. Amtrak is indead better than nothing.

If we were to decide to make Amtrak into a first world national railroad and thus would want a large major maintainace center I absolutely would locate it in Michigan. The area was for generations the center of the nation's auto industry.  Now that America is steadily losing its auto industry there are loads of skilled and hard working craftsmen unemployed, and large plots of land with empty factories on them ready for use. Amtrak would have little trouble creating an operation 50 times the capacity of BG in Michigan. There would be major costs involved to turn auto factories into train factories, but in the end it would be a bargain.

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I would say the ideal spot in Michigan would be Lansing since GM has shut down all but 1 plant and they already have tracks going to these plant's with small yards.
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#10 NickG

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Posted 16 June 2005 - 06:05 PM

From the Indianapolis Star, 6/16/05:

Amtrak future in area clouded

Workers at the Amtrak maintenance facility in Beech Grove again fear for their jobs.

This time, they worry that the 640 jobs at the rail yard, one of two in the nation that repair Amtrak trains, could be moved to Michigan.

The full story is here.
Nick Gibbon

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