Lawmaker blasts Brisbane company's relocation plan

May 13, 2011 11:52:24 AM PDT
A lawmaker in the Bay Area is blasting a company that is firing employees in Brisbane and moving to the San Joaquin Valley to allegedly take advantage of state tax breaks.

"I couldn't believe it. I mean it's a trick, it's a gimmick and it's wrong," said Assemblyman Jerry Hill (D) San Mateo.

Hill said the company should not be rewarded for such behavior. He's introduced legislation today to eliminate tax breaks for any company that fires employees in one California city and hires them in another. He's targeting a company that worked in Brisbane for 50 years.

VWR International would qualify for $37,000 for every employee it hires in Visalia. The law is intended to encourage companies to come to California, not move around within it. Hill suspects other companies have taken advantage of this loophole before, but just haven't gotten caught.

"It needs to be fixed and that is why this legislation will change that and it will go back to January 1 of this year. So it will not allow them to do what they are planning to do, which is get $37,000 for the employees that they hire in Visalia, while at the same time they fire 150 employees in the Bay Area," said Hill.

Brisbane takes in $2.1 million in taxes from VWR International, that is 18.5 percent of the city's tax base; an amount that almost pays for the entire fire department. Brisbane's mayor said he is grateful that Hill is stepping in to help.

"That is the only thing that is going to help us in this situation, because it's beyond our power to stop them, however the state can," said Brisbane Mayor Cy Bologoff.

VWR did not return phone calls from ABC7 News on Friday, but a company representative did speak to ABC7 News via Skype from the company's headquarters near Philadelphia earlier this week.

"Our decision to build in Visalia was based purely upon our capacity constraints in our current facilities as well as our ability to reach all of our customers," said VWR Operations Vice President Ed Borger.

VWR said it has not filed for any tax credits. The Visalia offices are scheduled to open next year.


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