Arvato loss leaves dent in town budget
By Heather Berry
Weaverville – The demise of the local branch of Arvato Digital Services this spring has deeply impacted the town of Weaverville’s budget. Aggressive efforts are underway nationally to find a tenant for the property, according to officials with the town of Weaverville and county economic development. With 416,500 square feet and sitting on a 35-acre landscaped campus, the Arvato property, is listed with a private broker for $16.9 million.
“The Arvato site is the single largest industrial opportunity in Western North Carolina at the moment,” said Clark Duncan, director of business development with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.
“While it’s a terrible loss, it’s also an opportunity,” said Duncan. He compared the loss of Arvato to the loss of Volvo in 2010. “The loss of Volvo, at the height of the recession, was terrible timing, but left us with a large and unusual piece of industrial real estate we could take to the marketplace.”
Town Manager Selena Coffey admits the loss has put pressure on council members and administrators to tighten their belts and find other sources of revenue to offset the tax casualty. A property tax rate increase of, at least two cents, is a possibility in light of the revenue losses, but Coffey wants the public to know town officials are working hard to make up for the loss in a variety of ways.
“When we lost Arvato, it was a big hit,” Coffey said. “It’s huge for our budget.”
Both Coffey and Duncan said they hope for a job-creator in terms of a new Weaverville industrial tenant. “We hope for a major manufacturer who can help pay the tax bills in Weaverville and bring high-quality jobs to Buncombe County,” said Duncan.
A manufacturer and distributor of compact discs and DVDs, was a fixture in Weaverville for more than 30 years. Property and equipment taxes from Arvato totaled $288,390 in 2012. In addition, the company paid approximately $100,000 for a privilege license annually. The North Carolina State Legislature eliminated the privilege license tax in 2015.
“A lot of folks think, ‘Well, Arvato still owns the building, so they are still paying property taxes,’ and that’s true, however, the company was also paying personal property taxes on the equipment,” explained Coffey.
Arvato’s taxes have steadily declined since 2016 when the company began reductions. Coffey wants residents to see the losses as relative.
For 2016, the town of Weaverville will not receive monies from the privilege license and the total from property and equipment taxes will equal $131,822.
“Around 2012, Arvato let the town know that it was their intent to move out,” said Coffey. “They began moving out their equipment which represents personal property taxes.”
At this point, no one company in particular has shown a serious interest in the Arvato property. The Buncombe County Economic Development has been working with the town of Weaverville in an effort to feature the property find a buyer.
“Economic development featured the Arvato property on their website as a top site for site selectors, across the nation, to consider,” said Coffey. “In the next four to six months, hopefully, we will have people coming from across the country to take a look.”