By Julie Ann Madden
Although the Akron-Westfield School Board took no official action on their Total Motors property, they did give consensus to move forward with negotiating a purchase agreement.
At their April 10 meeting, Central Valley Ag Senior Vice-President of Operations Bryan Reichmuth explained his company’s intentions with the property.
“We are looking to build a (repair) shop,” Reichmuth told the seven board members present. “The main interest was the price is right as a business decision for us.”
“It’s overkill,” he added, noting the Total Motors main building at 100 Hwy 12 North is “bigger than we need, possibly not even in the right location but as a business decision it felt good.”
“Today I get the sense that the school isn’t all that interested in selling,” he said, “and we’re fine with that. We’re fine either way.”
CVA officials plan to use the auto dealership’s shop in the back of the main building to fix their chemical spraying equipment and semi trucks, said Reichmuth.
The front half, which was the auto dealership’s sales floor and offices, CVA officials don’t know what they’d use it for at this time, he said. They may utilize some of the office space by some of their Region 8 office staff. Region 8 consists of their four Iowa locations: Hinton, Akron, Oyens, and Le Mars.
We’d like to relocate our entire office from our Akron location to the dealership building but “it doesn’t work logistically — crossing the highway to the bins and such,” said Reichmuth.
CVA also is not really interested in Total Motors grassy area west of Iowa Highway 12 or the body shop building on Mill Street.
“Of course, (the Total Properties) come as a package deal,” said Reichmuth, “but it doesn’t really fit us today.”
“We’re going to build a shop,” said Reichmuth. “I do not know that will be in Akron. If we were to build it, we would probably build it more central for our region — Le Mars fits more central but we don’t have the right property there today. I don’t know where we’d build it but we’ve got to build one.”
Questions By The Board
• Board Member Cory Tucker: How many new jobs would you bring by specifically acquiring this property?
Reichmuth: I can’t say we’re going to bring new jobs — potentially there could be one or two.
He explained they would eventually need a mechanic for their shop. This is a position they do not have at this time in Akron.
A couple of the office positions at their Hinton location should be housed at their Akron location.
• Tucker: Would there be any tax revenue or sales tax generated out of there?
Reichmuth: We would use it for storage. A lot of the products we sell are ag tax exempt.
• Board Member Jodi Thompson: Would you be using for local employees?
Reichmuth: For employees of Akron and our other Region 8 communities.
• Board Member Josh Martinsen: How many would be employed there?
Reichmuth: Although he wasn’t sure of the exact number, he responded there are five to seven employees at their Akron location. It depends on the time of year exactly how many. During the off-season (winter), the number of employees decreases to three or four here. During the in-season, employee numbers go day-by-day as to how it all breaks down.
• Tucker: If you didn’t have a shop here, would any jobs/employees be lost here?
Reichmuth: No, I don’t think so.
• Tucker: Would the mechanic come from our community or elsewhere Would someone relocate here?
Reichmuth: That would be great. We don’t have that position. We are short labor now.
• Board Member Deb Jordt: Do you see those individuals (mechanic and Hinton office employees) moving into the community?
Reichmuth: We wouldn’t require that. Of course, they have to be within a sensible range. We always prefer them to live in the community but help is so hard to find, we don’t tag a lot of stipulations to it.
• Akron Development Corporation representative Chad Ericson: For clarification, There wouldn’t necessarily be new jobs created but there would be people brought to town…it may be existing employees who live elsewhere but come to Akron to work or to bring equipment here for repairs…that would be like any other employee who comes to town and works here such as teachers or other local businesses’ employees.
• Board Member Phil Parks: Is there any chance of expansion?
Reichmuth: CVA is a growing company. We will expand and eventually that shop will be filled. You never quite build it big enough. If we build today, we won’t build it that large.
• Tucker: Our concerns are for job creation and tax revenues whether property taxes or sales taxes. Would there be any tax revenues out of CVA’s owning the Total Motors property that would equal the $5,000?
The district currently pays $6,000 to rent the Higman property as a bus barn, and off that property the City of Akron receives $5,000 in property tax revenue.
He noted with the property selling for about $200,000 twice, the taxable assessed valuation would probably drop.
“We want to make the right decision for our community,” said Tucker.
• A-W Shared Superintendent Randy Collins mentioned the hopes school administration had of having a School-to-Work curriculum at the Total Motors highway building site.
Reichmuth: Leasing the building causes liability issues. However, we are interested in shared Vocational Tech programs where CVA employees go to A-W High School and teach. We do that in three other communities. I don’t know it’s successful. I think we’re doing a good job of exposing the kids to some good stuff. That option is always there if we can come up with the right scenario.
• Collins: The possibility of leasing an auto bay?
Reichmuth: For bus maintenance and that type of stuff that is very open.
Plan of Action
Should the A-W Facilities Committee move forward with negotiating a purchase agreement or should we not do this, asked Board President Nick Schoenfelder. “What is the consensus?”
“I’d like to move forward on the sale of the property,” said Parks.
“I would, too, or at least bring it to a vote,” said Martinsen.
“Put it as an action item on the next meeting,” said Tucker.
A-W Board Secretary Mandy McCully explained the steps would be:
1) Negotiate a purchase agreement.
2) At a meeting, set a public hearing for a future meeting with time to meet legal publication requirements; and
2) After the public hearing, vote on the sale.
If no special board meetings were called, the earliest the vote could happen would be the school board’s June meeting.
Reichmuth said, with CVA in their busy season, the time line isn’t relevant. However, they would need an answer by July when he needs to go before the CVA Board of Directors with budget requests.