GARNER | The city of Britt is hoping the Hancock County Board of Supervisors will help it secure a large company looking to build a facility in the northwest corner of the city next spring.
On Monday, Dec. 3, Mayor Ryan Arndorfer and City Administrator/Clerk Debra Sawyer attended the supervisors’ weekly meeting to update them on a company, which is remaining confidential at this time, whose officials expressed interest in building a facility in Britt that would employ 70 people and to discuss sharing costs on requested infrastructure needs related to the development.
The company requested the city provide utilities, including water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer, to the proposed site located on a 10- to 15-acre agricultural lot near the intersection of Iowa Avenue and Ninth Street Northwest, as well as pave two adjacent roads, which the Britt City Council unanimously voted to do in November. The improvements are estimated to cost about $1.3 million.
“Those are the things they are requesting as a commitment from the city to make that happen,” Arndorfer said.
Because Iowa Avenue and Ninth Street Northwest are jointly owned by the city and the county, Arndorfer asked the county to pay $566,000 for the paving of the roadways from Highway 18 to Ninth Street and from Iowa Avenue to the Britt Evangelical Free Church, respectively.
The supervisors said the county’s “unwritten rule” in past projects has been to help fund half of it as well as provide engineering through the Secondary Roads department.
“I don’t have a problem with the county paying half the street expense,” Supervisor Ron Sweers said, with his counterparts Florence “Sis” Greiman and Jerry Tlach agreeing since the county owns half.
Tlach, who is also the board chair, said the County Board would discuss the item with Hancock County Engineer Adam Clemons to determine whether it’s feasible for the county to engineer the project and save both parties money by eliminating outside engineering fees.
“I think it’s a nice spot, especially if you can get it paved,” Greiman said.
The council’s vote on Nov. 6 was on the condition the company sign an agreement guaranteeing that the assessed valuation of the facility would be at least $6 million to ensure its taxes would cover the city’s annual bond payments expended for the infrastructure. The city plans on using tax-increment financing, or TIF, to pay for the project over a 12-year period, Arndorfer said.
He said the company’s facility — serving as its northern territory fleet headquarters and a show place for one of its divisions — will be valued between $7 million and $10 million, and company officials are willing to sign a minimum assessed value agreement at $7 million.
“That’s really because they’re asking for some things to happen and that would help us with the taxes to make sure it’s paid for,” Arndorfer said.
Arndorfer estimated the taxable benefit to Hancock County would be between $21,000 and $25,000 at its current rate depending on its classification.
“It’s a nice little boost of taxable income for all of us,” he said.
Arndorfer and economic development officials have been working with the company for several months.
He said the company recently hired someone to complete water testing in different areas throughout Britt and provide feedback on where the best location would be for its facility.
“His perspective is they’re definitely building in Britt ... They’re pretty set on that corner, too,” he said.
Arndorfer said the company is negotiating a deal with the landowner for their property. It hopes to begin construction next spring with plans to open in mid-summer.
Although no formal action was taken, the city and the county agreed to continue the conversation moving forward.
“Good luck with everything,” Greiman said. “This is exciting.”
In other City Council news:
- Officers Jordan Williams and Kovu, the city’s first K-9, were sworn in to the Britt Police Department Tuesday, Dec. 4, during the City Council meeting.
- The City Council unanimously approved a $3,000 raise for City Administrator/Clerk Debra Sawyer after her six-month review as outlined in her employment agreement. Her salary is now $63,000.
- The City Council rescheduled its January meetings due to New Year’s Day. The meetings will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 8 and Jan. 22.
• Photos: Britt officers are sworn into police department