Board sets cap for possible Dexter plant

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

McNeilus Companies of Dodge Center wants to limit its financial role in pubic utilities improvements at Dexter, where it hopes to build a new plant.

However, the Mower County Board of Commissioners wants to limit the role of taxpayers in the project.

Both goals will be accomplished after a decision was made by the county board Tuesday.

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The county commissioners voted unanimously to approve a measure that will limit the McNeilus financial obligation to $125,000.

If the project exceeds the $3.4 million estimated cost, the firm will have to come up with the additional financing on its own.

George Brophy, president and CEO of the Development Corporation of Austin, returned to the county board's Tuesday meeting to explain how the economic development project was proceeding.

Oshkosh Truck Corporation, the publicly-held parent company of McNeilus, wants to build a distribution center on a 10-acre site near the Mill Inn Motel at the Interstate 90 and Minnesota Highway 15 interchange near Dexter.

According to Brophy, Mower County would lend $250,000 to the DCA for the $3,360,000

total project.

The city of Dexter will contribute $250,000 of the costs through a new water tower, plus water and sewer improvements financed by Tax Increment Financing benefits.

Mower County would loan that money to Dexter and be repaid through the city's TIF program.

A grant would be obtained to cover an estimated $90,000 in costs to acquire the land for the water tower's construction.

The water tower -- estimated at $540,000 -- would be repaid to the city of Dexter, in party, by water and waste water treatment charges.

McNeilus' share of the water tower project would be $125,000.

Still other funding for the project would come from the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development.

Alliant Energy has also pledged to become a financial partner in the project, possibly by incentives on utility rates.

As many as 50 $12 per hour jobs would be created.

Brophy told the commissioners that "somehow we have to pay for the water tower up front."

To reassure the commissioners, he said their share of the project would be repaid also with the building lease payments made by McNeilus.

The DCA would own the building and the property on which it stands.

Brophy said the Dodge Center firm wants the "assurance of the board," their investment will be limited to $125,000.

Craig Oscarson, county coordinator, said the board members could take action Tuesday to give the developer the assurance they sought.

Dave Hillier, 3rd District county commissioner said, "We know they have looked at other communities and Dexter is their No. 1 community."

Len Miller, 4th District county commissioner and board chair, said the creation of jobs would bolster the economy.

Brophy said, the creation of 50 jobs was only an initial estimation. "Franklin, it could be greater than that," he said.

Ray Tucker, 2nd District county commissioner, said he would make the motion to ensure the McNeilus financial role n the project does not exceeds $125,00 and that all the money goes for the infrastructure costs associated with the water tower improvements.

Tucker, whose 2nd District includes the city of Dexter, added a provision that the limitation is subject to a final agreement being signed by both parties, the county and the Dodge Center firm, which would liit the county's role.

"All we're saying is if theis project goes, their contribution will be liited to $125,000," said Tucker.

When Richard P. Cummings, 1st Ditrict county commmissioner, asked, "Can we limit Mower County's role for the taxpayers?,"

Tucker repllied, "Yes. this project is $3.4 million and no more."

Tucker added, "We just can't leave it open-ended like that."

Oscarson counseled the commisisoenrs that by limiting the proejct to the $3.4 million figure, that ensured none of the financial players, McNeilus, the county, the city of Dexter and the state,

would be obligated to any additional fiancning if the project exciteeded that figure.

"Or," reiterated Tucker, "if it does, they're going to have to come up with different funding,"

The motion passed by a 5-0 vote.

Lee Bonorden can be contacted at 434-2232 or by e-mail at