Council approves 10-year tax agreement making way for new jobs

Council approves 10-year tax agreement making way for new jobs

PAWTUCKET – A new 10-year tax stabilization agreement with Change Healthcare will help bring some 300 new jobs to the city over the next two years while increasing tangible taxes from the company by $17,500 annually.

Louis Shapiro, a senior vice president for the company at 100 Freight St., told the council this month that the company has been good friends with Pawtucket to this point, and he looks forward to seeing the relationship continue.

Change Healthcare is already one of Pawtucket’s largest employers before it implements its expansion plans.

Tax Assessor Bob Burns said the company formerly known as Tunstall was looking at possibly leaving the state for Pennsylvania or Florida, but officials were able to convince its leaders to stay and expand in the existing location.

The city will receive a report back in six months on the jobs created by the company, which will see its tangible taxes frozen at $50,000 per year for the next 10 years, up from $32,500 currently.

Since the company doesn’t own the real estate, the agreement is based on tangible taxes, or $7,500 per workstation totaling $2.25 million.

Change Healthcare plans to add a mix of entry-level call center agent positions and higher-salaried positions in project management, sales, and human resources, among others.

Without the agreement, the increased tax value would be $63,000 per year.

Councilor Mark Wildenhain said the council’s finance subcommittee, led by Councilor John Barry III, “wholeheartedly” made the recommendation to approve the agreement, noting how it aligns with the state’s goals on job creation.

Councilors said they want to see Pawtucket residents given priority for the available jobs if possible, and Shapiro agreed that that has been and will continue to be the company’s goal.

The former Tunstall was purchased by Connect America.Com LLC more than a year ago, then acquired again by Change Healthcare last September. The company has been in the process of evaluating the potential to increase its call center presence, which Shapiro previously said took into account alternative locations.

“The ability to leverage, and expand, our existing personal property tax stabilization agreement has been a critical factor supporting our continued investment in our Pawtucket location,” he wrote last year.

Partnering with Commerce Rhode Island and the Department of Labor and Training, it is the company’s goal to not only continue employing the 250 existing personnel but continue acquiring and growing talent at the Pawtucket location, according to Shapiro.