NORMAL — The president of Heartland Community College, one of several taxing bodies affected by the proposed Brandt factory project, expects to recommend approving tax breaks to bring up to 500 jobs to McLean County.

“I would anticipate recommending approval,” said Heartland President Rob Widmer, who is reviewing a deal to bring Brandt Group of Companies to a soon-to-be-vacant factory at 19500 N. 1425 East Road, north of Normal. “If that property is not used and would not be invested in, it's more likely to deteriorate and lose value over time.”

Heartland is one of seven bodies that could give up property tax revenue over the next decade to bring the Canadian company to Central Illinois.

Under the proposed formula, the abatements would total $670,000 using current property values, which are likely to change as Brandt improves the site. The affected parcels currently generate a combined $127,444 per year in property taxes.

The long-term impact of the development is important, said Widmer, noting the agreement has specific job creation targets that must be met to receive the tax abatements.

The Heartland district currently receives about $9,295 in property tax revenue from the improved property that is part of the package and $491 in revenue from the unimproved farm ground.

Under the agreement, Brandt would agree to provide “in-kind contributions” to the McLean County Unit 5 school district and Heartland equal to 50 percent of the total amount of taxes abated by each district.

The nature of those in-kind contributions would be determined by consultation of both sides.

Widmer said that potentially could include some management expertise, internships or other educational experiences and equipment from Brandt.

Although the college would lose property tax revenue under the agreement, it might have the opportunity to gain revenue by providing customized training for Brandt employees, as it has for other businesses in the area.

Widmer said the college would be interested in training opportunities.

Heartland's board will take up the matter at its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 21 in its Community Common Building on Raab Road in Normal.

Meanwhile, McLean County officials could not be reached for comment on the deal Monday. The county receives $15,000 per year from the affected properties.

The County Board will meet to consider the agreement on Tuesday. The board's executive committee will meet in regular session at 4:30 p.m., followed immediately by a special meeting of the full board. Both are on the fourth floor of the Government Center at 115 E. Washington St., Bloomington.

Normal Township is set to consider the deal 8:15 a.m. Thursday at 304 E. Mulberry St., Normal. Township Supervisor Sarah Grammer said she has concerns about abating part of what's now $5,430 per year between its general fund levy and road district levy under the current deal.

The Hudson Area Public Library District and Hudson Community Fire Protection District currently collect $4,113 per year and $9,506 per year, respectively. Hudson officials could not be reached for details on when or if those abatements will be approved.

McLean County Unit 5's school board approved the deal on a 5-2 vote Monday. The district will forgo part of what's now about $80,000 per year in property taxes.

Follow Derek Beigh on Twitter: @pg_beigh


Staff Writer

Reporter for The Pantagraph.

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