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Stutsman County reviews ADM incentive request

The Stutsman County Commission held a special meeting Tuesday to review a request for tax incentives for the planned ADM soybean crushing plant at Spiritwood.

The Stutsman County Commission, meeting along with representatives of Barnes County North, Jamestown Rural Fire Department and Spiritwood Township, asked questions Tuesday about the tax incentive package requested by ADM for the planned soybean crushing plant at Spiritwood.

The commission held a special meeting to consider the request from ADM to make a $200,000 payment in lieu of taxes for 20 years rather than property taxes estimated at about $600,000 annually.

The project would also demolish most of the Cargill Malt plant which currently pays about $365,000 per year in taxes.

Richard Dye, senior tax manager for ADM, said the company knew Stutsman County and local taxing districts would see a decline in property taxes under the plan.

"Cargill was a specific use plant," he said. "If valued at $8.3 million (what ADM paid to Cargill for the malt plant) it would pay about $76,000 (per year) in taxes."

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The ADM project has a preliminary cost estimate of $350 million but that includes about $280 million invested in equipment that could be considered personal property and not subject to taxes under North Dakota law, Dye said.

The county commission also discussed the most recent property tax incentive granted to Dakota Spirit AgEnergy. That was a 10-year incentive package with three years of 100% exemption from property tax followed by a declining exemption for the remaining seven years.

Dakota Spirit AgEnergy is now in the sixth year of that incentive and receiving a 70% exemption on its property taxes.

Representatives of the governments that receive portions of the property tax assessed in Spiritwood Township raised questions.

"There is a lot of growth planned out there," said Brian Paulson, chief of Jamestown Rural Fire Department that serves the area. "As a fire chief, we have to be out there anytime we are called, even before the money starts coming in."

Clarence Daniel, Spiritwood Township supervisor, called the tax incentive program an "unfortunate bribe type of system."

"It is disappointing that you have to give free taxes to get a business to come in," he said.

Questions were raised about road infrastructure and the amount of truck traffic versus rail traffic that would come to the planned plant. Other questions involved the status of water rights previously held by Cargill.

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Dye said he would respond with answers to the questions Tuesday.

The Stutsman County Commission scheduled another special meeting for 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 11.

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