By Steve Peterson
SmithCo. Manufacturing Inc. of Le Mars can use a little over one acre of county owned land off 212th Street if it wishes for future expansion.
Supervisors approved the street vacation request by a 5-0 vote on Oct. 1 with a $35,000 contribution from the business to meet county expenses in paying back a RISE grant.
Supervisors Craig Anderson and Don Kass supported a $50,000 amount suggested but Supervisors Jim Henrich, Jack Guenthner and Mark Loutsch voted in dissension of that amount.
The area in question totals 1.06 acres.
“This would be for future expansion,” said Randy Strong of SmithCo.
Plymouth County Engineer Tom Rohe showed supervisors figures that the business, which had $210,267 in construction expenses in 1998-1999, a $22,560 default paid by the county against revenues of $160,000 from a RISE grant; $55,275 in Tax Increment Finance Funds and $40,833 in 2008-2013 property tax revenues for a positive figure of $23,281 revenues over expenditures.
“We’ve got an established business that is already there. We should encourage them,” said Henrich.
“We have to be stewards of the taxpayers’ money,” said Kass.
SmithCo owner Greg Smith said the firm has some specialized trailer orders which are waiting to be filled.
“I don’t want to give it to them,” said Loutsch.
Before the road vacation takes place, area taxing bodies must be notified and a public hearing will be held.
Sept. 10 Discussion
At its Sept. 10 meeting Plymouth County Supervisors discussed vacating a portion of a road, 212th Street, near the intersection of Iowa Highway 75 so SmithCo. Inc. may possibly have future expansion.
The county received a RISE grant in 1999 of $160,000 for 212th Street from Iowa Department Of Transportation.
“The site is one-quarter mile south of County Road C-38 and just west of (Iowa Highway) 75,” said Rohe. “The first phase cost proposal is $105,915.36 for a left turn lane and crossover at Iowa Highway 75 and the Phase Two cost is $104,351.64 for grading and paving west of Iowa Highway 75 for a total of $210,267.”
“We looked at a method of prorating the cost, which will be 2339.65 square yards for the total pavement placed, so it is almost a 50-50 split in square yards of pavement between the two phases,” he said. “Along with the RISE grant, there was a requirement to maintain so many jobs. That was in 1999 and when we submitted the data, they had come up short after 2003, of $22,560 in a default because we were under the numbers we had originally projected. That left $68,720.”
“I have had some contract with them since that time,” said Rohe. “It had been five years since we last discussed it, and if we did vacate it today, they would be looking at a settlement amount of $10,101.”
“Some of the state’s RISE grant would have to be paid back,”
SmithCo is a side dump trailer manufacturer which started in 1994. Its present facility has 70,000 square feet.
Rohe explained this was originally part of the NIPCO Industrial Park. There were two lots plus a 100 feet right-of-way that was dedicated to the county. We also reconstructed a shoulder area in 1998-1999. That was done in Phase One of Two phases.
A few years ago we talked to SmithCo Manufacturing about allowing them some expansion. The site is part of a Tax Increment Finance area which expired in 2007, with $55,275 in taxes received.
If the suggested section is vacated, a portion of 212th would still be maintained as a county road nearby for snow removal.
“They do not know for sure yet but they would like to have the ability to expand,” said Rohe. Expansion is needed due to constraints of trucks making a turn.
“What would be the plan if there was any more development to the west,” asked Anderson.
“We would need to bring 212th to the site or we would have to come off of C-38,” said Rohe.
The company, which employs about 95 people, at an average wage of $17 to $18 per hour plus benefits, “is a pretty important industry,” said Guenthner, adding company officials said they would be willing to pay settlement costs or the RISE grant repayment, $32,000.
“It is taking the most desirable property off the tax roles,” said Anderson.
“If we approve this, we are closing the door on possibly recouping our cost,” said Kass.