City sweetens 2012 PILOT with Mars
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Oct 29, 2013 | 968 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

The Cleveland City Council has approved an amendment to the 2012 Mars Chocolate North America payment in lieu of taxes agreement.

Doug Berry, vice president for economic development with the Chamber of Commerce, presented the addition to the agreement during Monday’s meeting.

The 2012 pilot granted a seven-year agreement with the company for payments of 50 percent of the otherwise due personal (equipment) property tax on equipment installed as part of upgrades to the plant.

“That was a unique project in that they actually had a series of investments and our conversation began in 2010,” Berry said. “They have completed most of their expansion but have realized as they are wrapping down ... they have expanded that investment to about $90 million.”

This exceeds the original proposed investment by nearly $24 million.

“They had an addition of $10 million worth of equipment investment that they needed to make,” Berry said.

The Council approved adding the equipment to that which is already receiving the PILOT tax exemptions.

The city of Cleveland will receive an estimated $84,000 from this additional equipment investment.

Berry said the Mars plant pays more than $500,000 a year in property taxes to the city.

“They committed 38 jobs to us in this (2012) agreement. They have actually hired 84 full-time employees,” Berry said. “I think it’s a good partnership.”

The investment will improve the production of the Twix candy bar. The Cleveland plant produces all of the Twix bars and more than half of the M&Ms produced in North America.

Berry said Mars Chocolate North America has recently built another plant in Kansas. He said it is important to keep this in mind because the plants will be vying internally for production of specific chocolates.

Also during Monday’s meeting:

n Council members discussed the possibility of entering a contract with The Ark of Cleveland to provide animal pickup outside the city limits if the Ark’s proposal is selected by the Bradley County Commission to provide an animal shelter.

“One concern was the cost involved with that,” City Manager Janice Casteel said.

Bob Kaylor of The Ark said for the Commission’s Friday deadline he only needed a letter of intent. Estimates on cost were not required.

Mayor Tom Rowland asked if there were other organizations looking for similar letters. Casteel said the Ark was the only organization that had contacted her on this issue.

“If they’re providing the kennel operation, they are providing that side of it and the rescue, you would be continuing to provide animal control services to pick up animals outside the city,” Casteel explained.

SPCA of Bradley County is also being considered for the county’s animal shelter position.

“The other group may not be intending for the city to provide their pic up service,” Casteel said.

Nov. 1 is the deadline for either organization to get letters of intent from potential partners in the project.

“We can’t commit to a price at this point,” Banks said.

The council delayed a decision until after the city-county animal shelter ad hoc committee meeting today.

Fifth District Commissioner Dale Hughes asked Kaylor to attend the joint ad hoc committee.

n The Council approved abandoning 5th Street N.E. from Parker Street to Church Street. Lee University plans to create a green space on the property.

n An ordinance was also passed creating a new kind of beer permit.