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Kahler seeks break for addition

September 18, 2012
Meg Alexander - Staff Writer , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Kahler Automation has requested a tax break from the city of Fairmont that will save the business roughly $26,000 annually for the next eight years.

On Monday, Fairmont Economic Development Authority voted in favor of creating a tax-increment financing district to help Kahler Automation expand its existing building by 15,000 square feet. The market value of the addition is estimated at $1.1 million.

The City Council will take the development authority's recommendation into consideration at a public hearing set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at City Hall.

"The important thing is: If not for the TIF, [owner Wayne Kahler] probably wouldn't have done the project," said city administrator Mike Humpal.

If approved for the TIF district, Kahler will pay the city's property taxes as usual and then receive a rebate twice per year for taxes paid on the new addition. The company will have to pay for the development work and legal fees that go into creating a TIF district.

Humpal stressed that $26,000 is a rough estimate of the savings Kahler will see: "It's not built yet. We haven't even looked at any plans, just square footage."

Kahler Automation creates and installs control and data collection systems that measure bulk materials, such as grain, seed, lubricant and sand. The company also develops software and systems to manage the mixing and distribution of these products. Kahler plans to move its manufacturing operations into the addition once complete.

"Wayne wants to get footings in the ground yet this year," Humpal said.

In other business, FEDA approved paying $1,500 to join Community Venture Network, a group that provides opportunities to meet with prospective businesses and companies interested in expanding. The annual membership fee is ordinarily $4,200, but Fairmont was given the deal as an incentive to join. FEDA also will have to pay $250 to attend one of the group's three get-togethers.

FEDA also received an update on the Park-N-Ride program, a joint commuter service offered by the city and Martin County to workers traveling to and from Jackson and Blue Earth for their jobs. Since the transit system began July 9, it has transported about 33 riders per week to Blue Earth, and only a handful each week to Jackson.

The city and county are working to promote the Park-N-Ride, especially since realizing the bus is of little use to employees from AGCO, a major manufacturer in Jackson, which schedules workers in closely staggered shifts.

Humpal was optimistic the numbers will increase once more people know about the service.

"We're getting close to $4 a gallon for gas again, which is what pushed us to do this," he said.

Park-N-Ride is supplemented by the city and county, plus a grant, bringing the cost of a round trip to $4. For more information, call City Hall at (507) 238-9461.



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