Last night, the Oro Valley Town Council voted to deny a tax break to pharmaceutical firm Sanofi-Aventis.

Mayor Paul Loomis cast the sole dissenting vote on a motion by Councilman Bill Garner to kill the construction tax rebate that would have saved the company up to $360,000.

Council members K.C. Carter, Bill Garner, Barry Gillaspie, Al Kunisch and Salette Latas voted to deny the requested tax break. Councilwoman Paula Abbott was not present for the meeting.

Town Manager David Andrews had requested that members postpone the vote to give the council opportunity to write and enact a policy on economic incentives.

But council members had other ideas.

“I can’t support to keep continuing this item until we have a policy,” Garner said.

The council has continued the decision twice before, once in December and again in March.

“I don’t think that it’s a fair way to spend taxpayer’s money,” said Councilwoman Salette Latas.

The deal had stipulated that the town would waive a portion of the local construction tax Sanofi-Aventis would pay in building a new office and laboratory in Oro Valley.

The town charges a 4 percent construction sales tax. Sanofi-Aventis, whose new facility is under construction in Rancho Vistoso, estimates the total cost of their building project to be $60 million.

The deal would have given them a tax rebate of as much as $360,000.

The company plans to use environmentally friendly and power-saving technologies at its new building, part of a companywide directive.

It also intends to have the new laboratory and office meet Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) standards set by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Mayor Loomis had hoped the tax break would highlight the town’s commitment to energy conservation and prompt other companies to build to LEED standards.

A motion to postpone the vote until a guiding policy on such matters could be created failed. Councilman Al Kunisch and Mayor Loomis voted for the delay.

Loomis suggested an amendment to Garner’s deal-ending motion to ask Sanofi-Aventis to re-apply for the tax break once a town policy on incentives is enacted.

Garner denied the motion.

“I don’t want to single-out a particular company, and that’s what we are doing by adding the amendment,” Garner said.  

There are no immediate plans for the council to write an economic or tax-rebate policy.

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