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Normal Township, Heartland Boards Approve Tax Breaks For Brandt

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Brandt Industries would move onto a property between Normal and Hudson now occupied by Kongskilde, another agricultural company, officials said.

Two more taxing bodies have approved the property-tax breaks to bring Canadian manufacturer Brandt Industries to McLean County.

The Normal Township board’s vote Wednesday was a squeaker, 3-2. Township supervisor Sarah Grammer said too much remains unknown, including the value of the state EDGE tax credit incentives and the value of potential improvements to the land between Hudson and Normal.

“No one can really explain or justify to me where we agree to a 10-year, 100 percent tax abatement on adjacent property Brandt will buy with absolutely no conditions. Why this is included in this agreement at all is baffling to me,” said Grammer.

A majority on the township board went for the 300 jobs the agriculture equipment manufacturer will create, though not happily considering the rushed time frame and lack of information.

"It's hard for me to look at this crappy process ... and yet we need the jobs,” said Trustee Arlene Hosea.

Brandt wants to buy the Kongskilde plant between Normal and Hudson and turn it into its first U.S. manufacturing facility. The company expects to create at least 300 new jobs. But to do that, it’s seeking property-tax breaks—called an abatement—worth at least $600,000 over the next 10 years, based on the property’s current assessed value. Unit 5 currently receives the most—around $80,000 per year—in property taxes from the Kongskilde facility. Normal Township receives around $3,664 each year.

The Unit 5 school board and McLean County Board approved the agreement last week.

Trustee Ray Ropp was in the majority voting to approve the tax breaks.

“It seems like this is an opportunity to benefit our community—even though we might not be fully supportive of the procedure—that we really can’t afford not to take advantage of,” Ropp said.

Grammer opposed the deal, noting it is a 10-year agreement instead of the five-year incentive deal Rivian Automotive received late last year.

The Heartland Community College board approved the proposal Tuesday night. The college currently receives around $9,341 in property taxes each year from the Kongskilde site.

If Brandt moves onto the Kongskilde property as planned, the first hires would be made by the end of the year, said Brandt President Shaun Semple. Production would begin by March 2018, he said.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
Ryan Denham is the digital content director for WGLT.
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