Lincoln County and Ivanhoe grant tax abatements

IVANHOE?- In a joint public hearing, the Lincoln County Board and Ivanhoe City Council by unanimous vote granted tax abatements to four local businesses planning expansion at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Eichens Agency Inc., Guza Machine Inc., Kevin Swanson Auctioneering and Lipinski Small Engine requested financial assistance to offset the costs of expansion.

Michael Bubany, representing public sector financing firm David Drown Associates, explained the advantages of a tax abatement over a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district and argued the financial benefits for Lincoln County and Ivanhoe will exceed the costs of the abatement, not cause an increase in the local tax rates.

The tax abatements are scheduled to run for 10 years from 2016, ending in 2025, and are projected to use $182,000 in city and county property tax reimbursements.

Expansions for all businesses are expected to be completed in 2014.

At the request of Vince Robinson, executive director of the Lincoln County Enterprise Development Corporation, the board gave Robinson permission to submit a letter of intent to apply for a grant from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program to extend the Lincoln County Lake Benton Trail System.

According to Robinson, the county could apply for a maximum of $300,000 in grants, which would require a 20 percent local match.

There has been no cost estimate as yet.

County Environmental Administrator Robert Olsen had some good news and some bad news for the board.

Sediment sampling conducted at various locations on Lake Benton found no seeds of the curly leaf pondweed, which has infested the lake, in some years completely choking the surface with the invasive species.

Though there is still some pondweed in the lake, it does not appear to be producing reproductive parts, according to Olsen.

After nine years of treatment, Olsen said he foresees an extended future without need for treatment.

Olsen presented a report to the board on the costs of completion for cleaning County Ditch 2. Lincoln County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been arguing over jurisdiction over the ditch, part of which runs through land owned by the federal agency.

Olsen reported the cost of cleaning 1,700 feet of ditch at $1.25 per foot amounted to $2,125 total. However, complying with U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s requirement to have the spoilage hauled off raised the cost to $6,597, or $4,472 more than planned.

Olsen told the board that while not conceding jurisdiction to the federal agency, the cost of fighting the requirement in court would far exceed the cost of paying to haul the spoilage off.

At Olsen’s request, the board authorized the termination of a contract with the city of Tyler’s garbage department to collect from the rural garbage station outside Tyler and award the contract to Waste Management Systems. According to Olsen, this could result in possible savings of $3,000 per year.