November 12 2015

Details on the Proposed TIF Agreement With Life Science Company

By: Rich Hosford

There will be a special Town Meeting held on Monday to discuss a single warrant article – a proposed tax increment finance (TIF) agreement for the life science company EMD Millipore. 

EMD Millipore is a life science business that is part of Merck KGaA in Germany. It’s is currently headquartered in Billerica but is looking to move to “The Summit” site at 400 Wheeler Road, a property next to Best Buy. The business would build a 280,000 square foot office building, at a cost of $115 million, which would house the company’s current employees. The Summit property is owned by the Gutierrez Company. 


During a Board of Selectmen meeting this week, Town Administrator John Petrin outlined the details of the TIF agreement that was struck with Millipore. Basically it is a 15 percent exemption on property taxes over the next 15 years in exchange for benefits to the community, both direct and indirect. 

According to the estimates, over the next 15 years Millipore will accrue $20,746,934 in property taxes at the site. This figure is based on the initial investment the company plans to make to upgrade the site as well as to other phases of construction. Under the TIF agreement it would be exempt from paying $3,112,040 so the town would receive $17,634,894 in tax revenue. According to the information provided by Petrin’s office, this is compared to $1,614,240 the town would receive from the site over 15 years if it remains as it is today. 

The reason a town would work out a TIF agreement with a company is because leaders believe having it relocate to town would be a benefit to the community. 

Matthew Powers of EMD Millipore explained earlier this year that there would be financial benefits to Burlington if the business relocated. He said they estimate that the business and its employees spend about $4 million a year on amenities, including hotels, restaurants and catering. The company also supports local charities and there is a strong culture of volunteerism among the employees, he added. 


There are also direct benefits to the community included in the agreement, Petrin told the board. Under the provisions Millipore would give $350,000 over 15 years to different charities in town, including $150,000 for school scholarships, an upfront payment of $80,000 to the Council on Aging (and $7 per year after that) and $10,000 for veteran groups. 


Petrin said the town has also been awarded a $2.25 million MassWorks grant from the Department of Housing and Economic Development for Millipore’s plans to move to town. The grant would be used to finish long-planned road improvements on Middlesex Turnpike to mitigate traffic. 


During an informational meeting on the TIF agreement on Tuesday, Petrin was asked if the MassWorks grant from the state was contingent on Millipore coming to town. Petrin said that wasn’t specifically stated in the award letter but that the grant came about due to Millipore’s interest in moving to town.


During that same meeting someone asked a Millipore representative if the company would only move to Burlington if the TIF agreement is approved. The answer was not definitive but the representative said the company is considering other possible options. 


Town Meeting will vote on the proposed agreement on Monday, November 16 at 7 p.m. in the Burlington High School auditorium.  


The Board of Selectmen voted 3-0 to recommend that Town Meeting accept the deal. Selectmen Bob Hogan and Chris Hartling were not present for the vote. 


Watch the entire informational meeting on the agreement here.  

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