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Pioneer council OKs updated tax abatement for AquaBounty

Pioneer council Wednesday night approved an amended enterprise tax zone agreement for AquaBounty by a 5-1 vote.

Ashley Epling, executive director of the Williams County Economic Development Corp., told council the previous agreement it approved expired because the project by the company to build a genetically-modified salmon farm was not completed by the end of 2021 as that agreement had called for.

“The investment is changing due to the cost of things increasing and the length that this project is taking,” Epling said.

She added there will be an increase in investment by the company of $234 million, which also changes the amount that will be contributed to North Central Local Schools and Four County Career Center.

The agreement provides a 100% property tax abatement for 15 years. The company then agrees to make payments to the school in lieu of property taxes for that period.

Epling said this will mean an additional $18 million for North Central from what was in the original agreement, and an additional $2 million for Four County.

“So over a 15-year period, which is the duration of the tax abatements, their total investment toward North Central will be $29,403,322, and then Four County would receive $3,320,000,” Epling said.

She added council needs to approve the agreement, then it gets sent to the county for approval and then to the state.

Councilman Dean Frisbie was the lone dissenting vote both to suspend the rules on the ordinance and in passing it. Both passed by a vote of 5-1, and an emergency clause was attached to the ordinance.

Frisbie declined to comment on his no vote when asked by The Bryan Times.

Epling said the AquaBounty project is now looking at a completion date of August of 2026. However, an issue with a water line for the facility remains in legal limbo.

Earlier in the meeting, council received information from North Central Local Schools Board of Education President Kati Burt on the tax levy the district will have on the ballot for operations. The levy will be for three years as it is hoped the AquaBounty project will be complete by then.

Epling said the tax money on the project cannot be collected until the project is at least 50% complete.

In other business, council:

Agreed to provide $3,000 toward the Kaleb McLaughlin Ride to Remember Event for this year. The money will go toward fireworks.

Briefly discussed this year’s 175th anniversary of the founding of Pioneer and a festival to mark it. Village Administrator Anthony Burnett said the village is trying to get a drone show for entertainment.

Discussed a proposed amendment to the current fire protection agreement with surrounding townships. A new fire truck is being purchased and the townships are being asked to pay a larger amount than under the current contract.

Approved two resolutions related to a project for infrastructure on Cedar and East Dearborn streets.

Approved having the village administrator advertise for bids for a new digger truck. The current one is 30-years old and under weight restrictions.

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