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Taylor County, Florida | Commission finalizes incentive package

  • June 18th, 2014

Perry News-Herald, June 13-14 2014

The Taylor County Commission has approved a modified set of incentives geared toward drawing as much as $220 million in capital investment to the county in the form of Project Freedom, the codename for a West Palm Beach company, BioNitrogen Corp.

In early May, the Taylor County Commission unanimously approved ad valorem property tax abatements for the company–should it choose to site here–totaling 95 percent of the increased property values resulting from the company’s capital investments for a period of 10 years. (Taylor County voters authorized the commission to offer tax abatement incentives in 2008.) At the time, the commission’s approval was contingent on the city council and Taylor County School Board providing their own incentive packages.

A week later, the city council unanimously approved its own incentive package, which included utility concessions, infrastructure construction and a short-term line of credit.

Originally, the county commission was seeking an interlocal agreement between itself and the Taylor County School Board under which the school district would contribute 25 percent of its increased tax revenue from the project to the county. (School districts do not have a mechanism to abate property taxes.)

According to Taylor County Development Authority Director Scott Frederick, subsequent talks with the district and the Florida Department of Education revealed that while the district would be in line to see around $700,000 in additional tax revenue based on a model with $100 million of capital investment on the part of BioNitrogen– corresponding reductions in state funding would negate most of the increase. Instead, the school district could expect to see a net increase of around $160,000 per year, mostly in its capital improvements fund (based on the $100 million model).

Frederick and City Manager Bob Brown approached the commission at their May 20 meeting, with a new proposal for consideration, under which the commission would agree to abate 70 percent of its property tax assessments for 10 years, reaching the same result they would have had under the proposed deal with the school district.

Using the same model–assuming a $100 million in capital investment–the county would still see approximately $235,000 in annual tax revenue from BioNitrogen after the abatements. The commission unanimously approved the new incentive package.

According to BioNitrogen’s Operations Manager Brian Samuels, the company will utilize patented technology to convert biomass into urea fertilizer at a series of plants, including potentially one in Taylor County. “The company’s innovative, proven technologies transform residual agricultural and forestry waste and other biomass materials into urea fertilizer,” Samuels said.

On May 14, the company held a ribbon cutting ceremony in Hendry County for its first plant, joining local and state officials for the event. BioNitrogen is projected to create 52- 55 manufacturing jobs in Taylor County with an average starting salary of $38,000 plus benefits. The total investment here has been estimated to be between $100 million and $220 million.

 

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