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Sanderson Farms tax abatement agreement approved by Smith County

Faith Harper - Tyler Morning Telegraph
Published on Tuesday, 25 April 2017 19:41 - Written by FAITH HARPER, fharper@tylerpaper.com

Smith County Commissioners on Tuesday finalized a tax abatement agreement for two Sanderson Farm sites in the county.

In March, the company announced it was looking at three locations in Smith and Wood counties - one for a poultry processing plant, one for a hatchery and a feed mill and rail yard - for a $200 million project that could bring as many as 1,700 jobs to East Texas.

 

Smith County resident Jeff Head spoke against the measure during Tuesday’s public forum on the project.

 

“Chicken farms contribute a lot of pollution and have a negative impact on property values,” he told commissioners. “Short term, it may be a positive impact to sell some property, but long term it will be a detriment. I think the pollution is a huge problem.”

Head was also concerned about the impact of added truck traffic on county roads.

 

Tom Mullins, CEO of the Tyler Area Economic Development Council, dispelled the idea that there would be strong smells associated with the operation.

“A lot of people who have that experience are with growers who have cut corners and are not sensitive to the environment,” he said. “A processing plant that has odors, that’s based on old technology. Sanderson is a totally different player in this industry. They have gotten state and national awards for their environmental (practices). They take that very seriously.”

Mullins also said most of the truck traffic would be in Wood County, on U.S. Highway 80, where the feed mill is proposed.

 “The type of company Sanderson is, I’m confident they will help with any road issue that comes up,” Mullins said.

Officials also commented on other merits of the company, including tuition reimbursement for people working there over a year, 401K options, quality medical insurance coverage and that the company pays higher wages than competitors.

The measure passed unanimously, with Commissioner Terry Phillips absent.

The Smith County projects include a processing plant in the unincorporated parts of Smith County and a hatchery facility in the Lindale business park.

The total economic impact of the Sanderson Farms project is estimated to be $1.4 billion over 10 years, according to the Tyler Economic Development Council.

The two projects will be taken up separately at Tuesday's meeting, but they have the same proposed abatement for the county’s taxes.

It’s a 10-year abatement, where the company will have 80 percent of its county property taxes abated for the first seven years, and half of the taxes abated the last three years. Those abatements are contingent on the company meeting established employment goals each year.

In other business:

- The county’s purchasing department will advertise and receive bids to repair and replace the roof on the Cotton Belt building.

- An interlocal agreement with the city of Bullard for boom axe services was approved.

- Delek Refining LTD will receive a property tax refund of $57,750 following a district court judgment in the case of Delek Refining LDT v. Smith County Appraisal District, out of the 114th District Court.

- Commissioners approved a Small Towns Environment Program contract with the Texas Department of Agriculture for the benefit of Wright City Water Supply.

- The Court approved the purchase of scales that will be located on Interstate 20. They will cost $4,306, but generate revenue for the county.

- Texas Spine and Joint Hospital is now considered be considered in-network for county employees, but the medication Durlaza is now excluded from its prescription benefits plan.

 

Twitter: @TMTFaith