Tax district in place to aid new Farmland plant

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

Although it won’t bring Farmland back tomorrow, at their meeting on Tuesday night the Albert Lea City Council took one of the necessary steps to make Farmland’s rebuilding easier.

Embedded in the Omnibus Tax Bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature was a provision that allowed Albert Lea to create a tax-increment financing (TIF) district with two parts that do not touch each other. Legally, TIF districts, which are a way to use property tax funds for redevelopment, need to be self-contained.

Albert Lea had asked the legislature to grant them an exception so that a TIF district, which included the site for a new Farmland plant in the Habben Business Park, could be used to generate funds for demolition and redevelopment of the former processing plant on Main Street. At Monday’s meeting the council had to affirm its decision to create the unusual TIF district and then vote to create the new district.

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The council also had to vote to officially readjust the boundary of Redevelopment District 5 to include the Habben Business Park, which has now been annexed into the city limits.

With these decisions behind them, the next step is to wait for Farmland to settle with its insurance companies. Farmland has announced its intentions to rebuild and has already begun the process of designing the plant and working with city planners and inspectors. But company officials have stressed that they cannot finance the construction of a new facility without a large insurance settlement from the plant that was destroyed in a fire last July.

The action taken at Tuesday’s council meeting was actually part of a public hearing that was initiated at a council meeting on April 22 and then recessed, because the legislature hadn’t yet acted on the request from the city. No one from the public spoke about the TIF district at Tuesday’s meeting.