Herald Journal Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, March 25, 2002

Winsted pressing McLeod County on tax abatement proposal

By Lynda Jensen

A wrinkle in the land swap related to Waste Management isn't stopping the Winsted City Council from trying option number two ­ tax abatement.

The deal involves the swap of five acres of land along McLeod County Road 1 in the heart of Winsted, for eight acres at the industrial park for the sanitation giant.

The move would optimize Waste Management's headquarters into the Winsted industrial park. The business currently serves numerous cities, including Montrose, Norwood, Lester Prairie, and Winsted with the somewhat recently purchased Kubasch Sanitation.

Tax abatement would allow the city to collect Waste Management's tax dollars and direct the funds toward sewer and gutter work that is needed at the industrial park for the new Waste Management building.

The first choice for the project was tax increment financing, in which the existing Waste Management building could have been used for redevelopment.

However, the city caught a snag when Waste Management decided to built a 20,000 square foot facility, which exceeds the limit for TIF by 5,000 square feet.

During the Winsted Chamber meeting Thursday, Waste Management Steve Metz emphasized his business' need to build for the future and not short term.

To accommodate projected growth, Waste Management determined a 20,000-square foot facility is what it need, Metz said. It does not want to build for one or two years, but normally plan in the future for the next 15 years, he said.

At its meeting, the council decided to attempt another option that replicated the TIF process closely, in the respect that tax dollars would be captured to help finance the installation of utility work.

However, McLeod County is receiving this idea coolly, since it has not been done before and would set a precedent.

Only one private business in Glencoe requested tax abatement in the past, and it was rejected by the county board, County Commissioner Ray Bayerl said.

In a TIF scenario, the county would most likely approve this arrangement.

City looks for public support at 2 public meetings

The Winsted City Council is counting on local citizens to help with its attempt at tax abatement proposal for Waste Managementat two key meetings coming up:

· a public hearing Tuesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at the beginning of the next Winsted City Council meeting.

· McLeod County Board meeting Tuesday, April 16 at 9 a.m. at the commissioners room of the courthouse in Glencoe.

Mayor Don Guggemos strongly encouraged citizens to attend both meetings to support the proposal.

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