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Dooley says county likely to seek restitution for Pfizer tax breaks

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 10, 2009 - St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley said Tuesday night that it's likely Pfizer will have to pay back some tax breaks it recently received from the county and the state of Missouri to encourage the drugmaker to remain and expand its facilities at its Chesterfield campus.

Instead, the firm announced Monday that 60 percent of its 1,000-person workforce here will lose their jobs over the next few months, as a result of its recent acquisition of another drug company, Wyeth. Some of the research done here is being shifted to Cambridge, Mass., where Wyeth had a similar operation.

Pfizer is vacating its Chesterfield property, where an expansion was completed earlier this year and has sold the complex to Monsanto Co., which originally had developed the site in the 1980s.

Dooley said he was pleased that Pfizer was retaining 400 jobs in St. Louis County, but added that the job cuts mean that the drugmaker likely will not meet the threshold set when it was granted 10-years worth of state and county tax breaks worth $7 million.

"We'll be looking at that and we'll see what the requirements are," said Dooley in an impromptu interview with reporters after Tuesday night's County Council meeting. "We're evaluating what needs to be redeemed."

Dooley said that Pfizer had contacted county officials last week to say that "there would be changes" at its Chesterfield campus, but offered no details before Monday's public announcement.

Meanwhile, Dooley added that county officials already have approached Monsanto to learn what that company may be planning, job-wise, for the Chesterfield site. The move means that Monsanto won't be proceeding with its recent plans to expand its current site in Creve Coeur, he said.

(Editor's note: The writer of this article has a relative who works at Pfizer.)

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.