City approves Scotts expansion abatement


FORT MADISON – A unanimous vote of the Fort Madison City Council sealed the deal on an incentive package for Scotts Miracle Gro’s facility on the city’s west side.

The city council voted 6-0 to approve a rebate of three years on the city’s portion of the property tax.

Varley said the city decided to go with the tax abatement to help meet the city’s responsibility of an incentive package offered to the company.

The addition is expected to bring in at least 40 full time positions as well as some possible expanded seasonal positions.

On May 19, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, awarded Scotts $91,612 in direct financial assistance and tax benefits from the state’s High Quality Jobs program to help with the company’s $2.6 million capital investment. The package required the city to match the $91,612 and Varley said the abatement was an easier path to meet the requirements.

“We expect that to bring in about $98,000 which would meet our obligation and go a little above and beyond. That way we wouldn’t have to go through the expense and time of putting together a tax increment finance district,” he said.

“It’s a real straightforward deal and we’re excited about and the state is, too. It should be a real good addition to the community.”

The company plans to add a 4,400 square foot building to relocate and expand existing operations.

“Scott’s Miracle-Gro Company (SMG) manufactures, markets and sells branded products for lawn and garden care, and indoor and hydroponic gardening.

In an unrelated issue, the council heard that the city will have to apply for an extension for a state transportation grant for the Amtrak depot.

“We’re going to make history because we’ll be the first group in the state to ask the state to approve an extenstion of the grant received for the Amtrak depot because it’s coming up on the 10-year anniversary and the 10-year rule,” Varley said tongue in cheek.. “If you don’t use it within 10 years you have to ask for it again and they’ve never had to do that before.”

Councilman Bob Morawitz asked what would happen if the state didn’t grant an extension.

“We’ll have to come up with $600,000 ourselves. It’s not a good option,” Varley said.

However, he said the city’s been working with the state and he doesn’t see any difficulty getting it approved.

“They just made a comment that they’ve never had to pull out the forms and paperwork to do this before. We have to renew it every six months anyway, but this is the first time they’ve had to do the 10-year rule. And that’s what we’re up against now,” Varley said.

Mayor Brad Randolph said he didn’t see there being an issue.

“I think the state recognizes that the city has been diligently moving toward this project and it’s circumstances beyond our control, so I don’t envision an issue with it,” he said.

In other action, the council;

• voted 6-0 to award a construction contract to Norris Asphalt Paving Co, of Ottumwa to complete a Rodeo Park Trail extension. The cost of the project is $74,629 with 25% coming from the city and the rest through a state TAP grant. The project will begin after the Tri State Rodeo has concluded in September and should last about three weeks.

• voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution setting solid waste fees for individuals living outside the city limits but within a quarter-mile, using the new containers. Those residents will pay $17.50 per 65-gallon cart and $19.50 per 90-gallon cart. Those residents within the quarter-mile may use the city’s solid waste collection services at the Public Works director’s discretion.

• voted 6-0 to file an application for a state recreational grant to help with costs of the PORTs Connecting Fort Madison! Phase III.

• voted 6-0 to reappoint Matt Morrison to the city’s revolving fund loan committee, and Rebecca Bowker and Dave Soppe to the Fort Madison Housing Authority.

• voted 6-0 to move forward with the 3rd Street combined sewer overflow separation project in the amount of $95,300. The project will be a rehab and maintenance of the sewer located on 3rd Street from Avenue G to Avenue F.

• voted 6-0 to approve a bid of WL Miller Company of Hamilton in the amount of $1.67 per square foot for the 2018 Country Club Road Asphalt project.



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