Webster County prepares agreement with Cargill

Supervisors: Payments for ag park water treatment will make park more competitive

Webster County is moving forward with plans to offset water treatment costs for Cargill Inc. at the county’s ag industrial park.

The Webster County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a resolution to prepare an agreement to pay back Cargill for expenses it incurred in preparing for future growth at the park west of Fort Dodge, known as Iowa’s Crossroads of Global Innovation.

Waste treatment equipment was oversized when it was put in, in order to be ready for more companies moving into the park, said Dennis Plautz, chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. Cargill has been paying for that oversizing, Plautz said.

“This is the annual debt service on the unused portion of that oversizing, which Cargill has been paying,” said Plautz. “What this does is use tax increment that has been accruing to offset those costs, to help make the facility more competitive when bidding on over-the-fence companies.”

The projects include a screening and alkalinity building, ground storage, and booster pump station.

Equipment was built oversized up front because that’s much cheaper than trying to increase the capacity as you go along, Plautz said.

Cargill approached the county for help because paying back the debt on oversized equipment makes the Webster County location less competitive, according to the resolution.

“There have been projects which could have been located in ICGI, yet the current cost structure of the Webster County Cargill facility is not as competitive as other facilities,” the resolution states. “The fees associated with the aforementioned projects, along with other costs and fees, contribute to the current overall cost structure.”

It also states the county will use excess tax increment financing proceeds to offset project costs for five years, totalling $271,534 per year.

The costs will still be around in five years, and officials can renegotiate at that time, Plautz said. Or the costs can be reconsidered before that.

“The thing that’s important is this is an annual appropriation, where the supervisors will look at this every year, number one,” he said.

“Number two, if an over-the-fence comes, and it is a qualified investment, then their payment will be reduced accordingly based upon a negotiated matrix.”

A qualified investment could include additional corn grind, or an increase in people buying steam from Cargill.

The supervisors discussed the payments previously at their June 26 meeting, when the urban renewal plan was updated.

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