Aviation firms keep city tax break

City Council extends agreement for exemption for another 3 years

A sales tax exemption for aviation and aerospace companies in Grand Junction that would have sunset in August will be continued for three more years.

That was the direction voiced by Grand Junction city councilors during a workshop Monday night that focused on ways the city could encourage economic development.

For the past three years, Grand Junction had been offering the sales tax exemption to all local companies in the aviation and aerospace industry, but only West Star Aviation, an aircraft maintenance service located at the Grand Junction Regional Airport, had been taking advantage of the offer, according to Kelly Flenniken, executive director of the Grand Junction Economic Development Partnership.

“It really does more than pay for itself,” she said. “They’ve said without the benefit, they don’t know if they could do an expansion.”

West Star is working on the details of constructing an $8 million, 45,000-square-foot paint hangar to accommodate some of the largest corporate jets. The venture is thought to bring 150 jobs to the area and infuse millions of dollars into the economy.

The aviation and aerospace industry as a whole in Grand Junction contributes about $1.5 million to $2 million in sales and use taxes a year, according to Elizabeth Tice-Janda, revenue supervisor for Grand Junction.

West Star’s sales tax exemption is calculated at about $1 million over the past three years, but the company has contributed $7 million in projects that bolster local coffers in other ways, Flenniken said.

Councilor Marty Chazen suggested the city offer similar benefits to other industries that the Grand Junction area would like to attract.

As well as aviation and aerospace, GJEP has identified industries such as energy companies, health care, information technology and companies that produce outdoor goods as ones they would most like to attract to the area.

Councilor Phyllis Norris wanted to permanently approve a sales tax exemption for the local aviation and aerospace industries, or at least until 2023, a date the state has set to offer other incentives for those companies to locate in Colorado.

“The state recognizes how important it is,” she said. “We want them here, not on the Eastern Slope. I think we’re getting more than our million dollars a year.”

Norris also requested councilors work to create a group of business individuals to report back to council on ways the city can further spur economic development.


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