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'They don’t need it.' Tax relief for Eli Lilly passes City-County Council, despite no votes and pushback

Posted at 9:31 PM, Mar 18, 2019

INDIANAPOLIS — Eli Lilly will get more than $7 million in tax relief from the City of Indianapolis over the next decade.

The Indianapolis City-County Council approved Monday night about $7.1 million in tax abatements to the pharmaceutical company over the next 10 years. The abatements come as part of a multimillion-dollar investment into a building on Eli Lilly’s campus near Kentucky Avenue.

The investment is a $91 million expansion to the Lilly Technology Center – South first announced in 2017. It includes more than 22,000 square feet of building retrofit and 12,000 square feet of new building construction.

The proposal for the abatements passed the full council 19-6. Those who voted no were Democrats Zach Adamson, Stephen Clay, Jared Evans and Christina Scales. The Republicans who voted no were Marilyn Pfisterer and Susie Cordi.

Adamson was the lone councilor who voted no on the proposal when it was in committee a week ago. At the time, there was still confusion on how much the Eli Lilly custodial staff is being paid. Eli Lilly has said that the custodial staff is contracted out to another company, and the pharmaceutical company isn’t in charge of determining the custodians’ pay.

Adamson said the contracting company has maintained that they are paying the custodians as much as they can with the agreement with Eli Lilly. His questions about the pay didn’t get answered.

“[Eli Lilly] still maintains they don’t have any role in that, and that’s disappointing,” Adamson said.

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Adamson participated in a protest with custodial staff in October 2018 for higher pay.

He also voted no because Eli Lilly has not committed any new jobs with the expansion. He warned against the trend of companies asking for tax relief to develop or even stay in the area.

“This is like the second or third one we’ve seen where the city is not seeing any direct benefit from this,” he said. “So many small businesses never get any assistance from the government. Most people work for a small-type business. … They don’t need it. That’s the worst part. Lilly doesn’t need it. The City of Indianapolis does.”

The building’s improvements will allow Eli Lilly to better produce insulin products, a company representative said. The last tax abatements Eli Lilly received were in 2017, which totaled about $9.3 million over 10 years.