November 17 2015

Town Meeting Approves Millipore TIF Agreement

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington Town Meeting voted to approve a tax increment financing (TIF) agreement with a life sciences company as an extra incentive for it to move to town during a special meeting Monday night. 


The company in question was EMD Millipore, 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. 


The TIF agreement is pretty straightforward. 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. 

 

There are also direct benefits to the community included in the agreement, Town Administrator John Petrin told Town Meeting. 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. 

 

One member asked if the MassWorks grant would be taken away if Millipore did not move to town. Petrin said it was unclear but that the award letter for the grant specifically said it was not a binding agreement between the state and the town. 

 

Chris Ross, Executive Vice President of Operation of EMD Millipore was at the meeting. He was asked why such a successful company that was looking at a lot of potential growth needed a TIF. 


“The opportunity to look for a site is a significant investment,” he said. “It is not something we take lightly because we’re a big company. It is a fiscal decision.” 


Another Town Meeting member asked Ross if the decision to come to Burlington hinged on the approval of the agreement. He did not directly answer the question but said the company wanted to move to town. 

 

“We are very excited to come to Burlington,” he said. “I want to grow here and I’d love to see it through to Phase II and III.”

In the end Town Meeting approved the agreement with a large majority. 

 
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