Unit 5 First To Vote On Tax Breaks For Ag Manufacturer Brandt | WGLT

Unit 5 First To Vote On Tax Breaks For Ag Manufacturer Brandt

Nov 13, 2017

A Canadian agriculture equipment manufacturer would receive at least $600,000 in property tax breaks over the next 10 years if it brings hundreds of promised new jobs to McLean County, according to a proposed agreement facing its first vote Monday.

Brandt Industries USA wants to buy and expand the Kongskilde plant between Normal and Hudson. Officials say Brandt plans to create at least 300 new jobs over the next decade. Kongskilde plans to vacate the plant as it downsizes its operation and moves to Bloomington.

The tax-break agreement requires the approval of seven local taxing bodies. Unit 5 is the largest, set to lose around $400,000 in revenue over several years, according to terms of the agreement. Unit 5’s school board will vote on agreement during a special meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

Unit 5 Board President Jim Hayek said he’s leaning toward supporting the agreement.

“I’m torn,” Hayek told GLT on Saturday. “We continue to be asked to make these tax concessions. We have needs (in Unit 5) that we’re having a hard time meeting. But at the same time, 300 to 500 new jobs would benefit not only Unit 5 but the community as a whole.”

Brandt would have to hit certain hiring thresholds—scaling up each year—to get the tax breaks. In the first two years, Brandt would have to hire 50 to 75 full-time employees during its “peak operations period” to get its property tax bill cut in half. From 2020-2022, 100 percent of Brandt’s taxes would be abated if it meets the hiring thresholds. That incentive then dips back down to 50 percent in 2023 and 2024, if Brandt has 300 peak-operations employees.

Hayek said the agreement was similar to the recent tax-break agreement local governments reached with Rivian Automotive at the former Mitsubishi Motors manufacturing plant.

“Failure to achieve the required number of Full Time Employees for a particular year shall affect the determination of the abatement relating to that particular year and shall have no impact on the abatements relating to preceding and/or subsequent years,” the agreement states.

Brandt would also be required to donate equipment, student mentoring time, and other community service equal to 50 percent of its annual tax break, according to the agreement.

The agreement also hints at future expansion by Brandt in McLean County. Brandt doesn’t have a base of operations in the U.S., and if McLean County becomes its American headquarters, the company may seek additional property in the area, the agreement says.

After Unit 5, six other taxing bodies would have to approve the agreement. McLean County Board will vote Tuesday. Heartland Community College’s board will vote Nov. 21. Other impacted taxing bodies include Normal Township, Normal Township Road District, Hudson Community Fire Protection District, and the Hudson Area Public Library.

McLean County Board Chairman John McIntyre declined to comment on the possible agreement Saturday. “There are a lot of details to work out,” McIntyre told GLT.

The Kongskilde site generates around $80,000 annually in property taxes for Unit 5. Without action, Hayek said, that revenue could fall if Kongskilde relocates and a new occupant—like Brandt—doesn’t move in. Kongskilde's grass and soil business (including the Hudson operation) were acquired by CNH Industrial earlier this year. A message left with CNH was not immediately returned.

A message left with Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council CEO Kyle Ham on Saturday was not returned. Attempts to reach Brandt officials on Saturday were unsuccessful.

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