February 5, 2018 11:30:11 AM
All seems to be going well with a local company nearly a year after city councilmen voted to approve an agreement to take care of about $76,000 in back taxes and late property note payments.
The council approved the agreement with American Power Source Inc., a clothing manufacturer located at 826 17th Ave. S. that makes U.S. military uniforms, in late February. Under the agreement, American Power Source, which now goes by American Players, would pay $47,373 in back ad valorem taxes owed to the city, Lowndes County and the city school district, and $29,218 in delinquent property note payments.
In exchange for catching up on the old payments by March 21, 2017, the city agreed to forgive the roughly $80,000 the company still owed on the property note.
City Chief Operations Officer David Armstrong said American Players has caught up on its note payments with the city, and the city has since forgiven the remaining debt on the property note.
As part of the agreement, American Players has to maintain a minimum workforce of at least 30 people. Armstrong said the company has maintained well more than that since the deal took effect last March.
"They're doing well," he said. "They give a report every month. The agreement only calls for them to maintain a minimum of 30 employees per month, or they'll pay the city $1,000 for that month. It varies from month to month, but since March they have averaged 138 employees."
Lowndes County Tax Assessor Greg Andrews said the company is current on taxes owed through this year. He said the taxes owed this year entered delinquency last week, but won't go to an annual delinquent tax sale as long as they're paid by August.
The city received the property where American Players is located in 2003 from the Columbus-Lowndes Economic Development Agency, the Golden Triangle Development LINK's predecessor. That same year, the city leased the property to American Power Source for five years.
In 2009, the city sold and financed the land to the company for $198,000. However, the company struggled to keep up with payments due to a fall in production that stemmed from a "substantial reduction in orders and sales volume" as military uniform production shifted to prisons.
That caused the company to miss several note payments and ad valorem tax payments for 2014-16. The resolution the council approved last year noted a "substantial likelihood" that the company would fail to make remaining note payments on the property.
American Players is headquartered in Massachusetts. The deal came to fruition after company president Roxanne Ferreiro approached the Golden Triangle Development LINK to seek assistance with owed taxes and late note payments. The LINK, city and company agreed on the terms of the agreement after several conversations, and the council approved it last year.
Company representatives did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
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