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Costco tax abatement approved by MCHS school board

MORRIS – The Morris Community High School Board joined the city of Morris and approved a proposed tax abatement for Costco this week.

“It’s a nice positive project if it happens,” Superintendent Pat Halloran said Tuesday. “We enjoyed working with the GEDC, Costco and the other taxing bodies to try and bring this economic benefit to the county.”

Costco is looking at making a $110 million investment by possibly building a new facility in Morris, Nancy Norton Ammer, CEO of the Grundy Economic Development Council, said last week.

The proposed area is just west of Costco’s current distribution center at 3800 N. Division St., near Route 47. The company has submitted a draft annexation agreement to the city, and wants to annex about 140 acres into the city.

According to Costco’s application for the abatement, it wants to construct a meat processing facility to coincide with its existing distribution center in Morris. If it moves forward with Morris, Ammer said Tuesday, Costco hopes to start construction midway through the year and open in 2015. The company plans to hire 87 to 110 employees.

“We are trying to put this package together in hopes they will choose Grundy County,” she said. “We are the front-runner but nothing has been decided.”

The school board Monday, and the Morris City Council previously, approved a four-year, 50 percent tax abatement agreement with Costco, if it gets annexed into the city.

Because of the large investment the company is expected to make, Costco is eligible for a four-year tax incentive rather than the usual three-year abatement on their property taxes. The three-year agreement is usually for an abatement of 75 percent the first year, 50 percent the second year and 25 percent the third year.

“If it goes through, it has an estimated EAV of about $9 million,” Halloran said. “What that would mean for our district in terms of the abatement is [about] $73,000 a year. And in year five, when its fully assessed, that is $146,000 a year.”

Nine taxing bodies are looking at the tax abatement proposal. So far the city of Morris and Morris High School have approved the abatement. It was on the Grundy County Board’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, Ammer said.

In other business, the Morris High School board also approved donations from community organizations and members: $100 from the Morris Area Public Library after the Madrigal singers performed and $500 from state Sen. Sue Rezin and Dr. Keith Rezin.

In addition, the Community Foundation of Grundy County also provided the school with a $600 grant for the purchase of a ASUS tablet and to buy upgrades for some of its existing tablets.

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