The possibility of rescinding a $17.2 million tax incentive package on a deal with Great Wolf Resorts is now being considered by Massachusetts’ Economic Assistance Coordinating Council (EACC) after it was discovered that the company selected subcontractors who didn’t use union labor for their water park’s recently-completed renovation. The resort opened in Fitchburg earlier this year.
After purchasing the former Holiday Inn in Fitchburg for $66 million, Great Wolf began construction on its water park. Last March, the company was awarded $16.5 million by the EACC in municipal property tax credits, along with an additional $700,000 for related issues.
However, the New England Regional Council of Carpenters had previously complained during construction of the subcontractors using non-union laborers who were not covered by workmen’s compensation, a violation of Massachusetts state law. The union was able to obtain a brief stop-work order, but the project was completed and the facility opened its doors this past spring.
The union’s main argument is that since the company was in violation of state law prior to the awarding of the multi-million dollar tax package, the tax breaks earned by the company should be voided.
The furor has caused the EACC to create a special subcommittee to focus specifically on this controversial conflict. That subcommittee met last Tuesday to see if the tax credits should be taken away, as well as exploring whether or not state oversight of such programs should be revamped. They will then offer a recommendation to the full committee, which reconvenes on December 17.
In previous cases asking for revocation of tax credits, the issue has usually been not reaching agreed-upon job targets. The EACC’s out-of-the-ordinary move raises the possibility that they might indeed take away the company’s credits.
When asked for comment, Great Wolf says that they spend approximately $6 million with subcontractors in the state each year. They also pointed out that they employ roughly 200 full-time staffers at the resort as well as 300 on a part-time basis.