The Suwannee County Commission discussed the tax abatement issue at length this week before agreeing to give a chicken manure processing plant, a 60/40 tax abatement break if the company decides to locate here.

The company cannot give any commitment to anyone until it's met many different requirements with the state to get incentive grants and start-up assistance. Those applications are still in the process, and the company hasn't made any commitments at this time. It could even locate in another state, many which are trying to get the business.

If the plant does locate to Suwannee County, it would be located off SR 51 on 80 acres of property the Suwannee County Development Authority has an option on at this time.

Because of the nature of the business, it would be regulated by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Suwannee County Economic Alliance President Dennis Cason, who brought the issue before the Commission, said the plant will employ 57 people in the first phase and 57 more during the second phase, all at salaries Cason said would be in the $29,000 a year range.

In giving the Commission figures of economic impact to the county, Cason said the plant would be a $32 million venture. Commissioner Randy Hatch and Chairman Ivie Fowler challenged Cason on this figure, pointing out that the paperwork provided by Cason to the board showed a $12 million facility. "These are new figures!" Cason replied. Cason was told to make sure these figures were corrected.

During the public hearing portion of the item, Dick Calvitt, a local real estate agent and banker, suggested a larger abatement may be needed, while Jim Ward said he wasn't a fan of tax abatements and said the process for luring new businesses was out of control and pitted one state against another.

The board voted for the abatement unanimously.

This Week's Circulars