By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Hill County has granted Schwan's Food Co. property tax benefits for its new building near Havre.
Schwan's, which relocated to Hill County last month from Chinook, will pay taxes on half of the assessed value of its new warehouse facility for the next five years. After that it will pay an additional 10 percent each year for five years. In the 10th year, the company will begin paying taxes on the total assessed value.
The Hill County Commission approved the tax break for the food home delivery company on Thursday.
Montana law allows counties to provide the tax breaks to new or expanding companies to spark economic development. The plan applies to companies that make renovations or build new structures that cost more than $125,000.
Commissioner Doug Kaercher said Schwan's move to Hill County is indicative of corporate confidence.
"Anytime a company has the confidence in a community to invest in a new building, the outcome will be positive," he said.
Schwan's, based in Marshall, Minn., has more than 600 outlet facilities across the United States.
Thursday's meeting was attended by Orval Ulrich from Schwan's corporate office, and Kirk Miller, superintendent of Havre Public Schools.
Ulrich, who is the field construction coordinator for Schwan's, said the the company opted to move to Hill County because Havre has a larger customer base than Chinook.
The move will benefit Hill County by providing a new source of tax revenue and bringing a "community-minded" company to Havre and the surrounding area, Ulrich said.
Commissioners Kathy Bessette and Pat Conway expressed their support for Schwan's move.
"It's a gain," Conway said.
"It's a win-win situation," Bessette added.
Miller said he also supported the move and the tax relief plan.
"We are in support of your move to this community," he told Ulrich.
Miller said after the meeting that the school district participates at any hearing that could affect school funding.
"We're always concerned with tax implications," he said. "We want to be involved in anything that could affect the funding our kids receive."
Schwan's is not the first company to take advantage of the tax breaks, Kaercher said. Other companies that have been approved for relief include Tempo Electric, Lotton Construction, Pardi Gras and Harvest States.