Local firm seeks tax break

FAIRMONT — Martin County commissioners will hold a public hearing Jan. 8 on a request for a property tax break by Great Plains Transportation of Fairmont.

The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. in the commissioners meeting room at the courthouse.

Great Plains Transportation Services, 923 N. State St., is asking not to pay new property taxes resulting from a proposed expansion of the business. It is a 10-year request, with the abatement from the county estimated at $164,000.

Great Plains also is asking for tax relief from the city of Fairmont and Fairmont Area Schools. The total value of the tax relief would be an estimated $539,000 over 10 years.

According to a letter from Great Plains, its project would involve the construction of a 12,000-square foot addition at its current site.

The company employs 42 people in Fairmont. To receive the property tax break, it would commit to retaining all of those workers, plus hiring eight more, with a starting wage of at least $12.50 per hour, plus benefits, within five years of project completion.

Great Plains has been operating in Fairmont since 1995. The firm provides the trucking industry with factoring, licensing and permitting services.

The Martin County Economic Development Authority has recommended that county commissioners agree to the proposal in full or in part.

In other action Thursday, commissioners:

o Held the annual Truth-in-Taxation hearing, with minimal public input. The proposed county budget for 2019 is $27.3 million, down from this year’s budget of $28.3 million. The property tax levy is expected to rise from $15.8 million to $16.3 million, or 2.94 percent. Explaining the levy hike, officials say the county will hire two full-time positions in 2019, set aside additional funds for capital improvements, pay about 5 percent more for health insurance costs and pay to update an outdated compensation study.

o Approved extending the lease for the Veterans Service Office at 2423 Albion Ave. in Fairmont. The agreement with Smith Rental Properties calls for the office to remain in its current location through November 2022. The county will pay $629 per month in rent. Either party may terminate the lease with 90 days written notice.

o Appointed Deputy Assessor Michael Sheplee to the position of assessor, effective Jan. 1, at a starting wage of $37.70 per hour. The county will hire a deputy assessor to fill Sheplee’s former role.

o Approved new compensation and per diems for county commissioners. Commissioners will be paid $25,190 in 2019, with per diems of $75 per day for performing official duties.

o Approved salary increases of 2.5 percent for other county elected officials. In 2019, they will be paid: county attorney, $123,739; auditor/treasurer, $107,952; sheriff, $107,952; and recorder, $66,726. Commissioners also approved 2.5 percent salary increases for non-union employees, as well as step increases for eligible non-union and union workers.