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County OKs bonds to aid pump maker

Franklin Electric moving HQ

– Franklin Electric will get a little help making payments on its multimillion-dollar investment in Allen County.

Allen County Council members approved a recommendation Thursday from the Economic Development Commission to finance $35 million worth of revenue bonds for the company, which manufactures submersible pumps.

The revenue bonds will be used to finance construction of Franklin Electric’s new headquarters in Allen County. The company is in the process of moving from Bluffton to Allen County.

The company will use money normally paid in property taxes to pay a portion of its loan payments for the new 120,000-square-foot headquarters and engineering center. Taxpayers will be under no obligation for any of the bond payments, officials said.

Franklin Electric bought a 98-acre site at 9333 Coverdale Road near Fort Wayne International Airport last year and the area was established as a tax increment financing district. The new building is under construction, and officials have said they hope to move in next summer.

Tax increment financing districts are established to enable local governments to use tax revenues generated within the districts’ boundaries to pay for improvements such as sewers and roads and to attract more development to the area.

Franklin Electric will pay about $630,000 in property taxes, said Scott Harrold, senior economic development specialist for the Allen County Department of Planning Services.

Those taxes – tax increment financing revenue – will go into a special fund to help pay off the 25-year bonds, Harrold said.

State law allows many uses of tax increment financing funds including the construction of buildings, so this is considered beneficial for the area, Harrold said.

“We try to help companies in ways that they find most beneficial,” he said.

“While the county will not receive any property taxes from the building for 20 years, property taxes from equipment at the facility will be available for other taxing units such as the township, airport and library during that time,” Harrold said.

The company’s move to Allen County will result in 35 new jobs, in addition to 225 current employees who transfer to the new headquarters.

Personnel

Members of the county’s personnel committee will meet next month to decide whether the council should have the authority to fill all county personnel positions.

The personnel committee includes representatives from County Council and the county’s human resources department. Under the proposed policy, the council would have the final say in departmental job postings and hiring.

While a few members of the council wanted to enact the plan immediately, County Auditor Tera Klutz and County Budget Director Jackie Scheuman cautioned against acting without input from human resources.

“If this is effective immediately, it could hurt the operation of departments, and I know that is not your intent,” Klutz said.

“This would create extra procedures for human resources, and I am sure you will want their input,” Scheuman said.

Council President Larry Brown said the policy would fly in the face of their intent to avoid micromanaging.

“We said we were not going to micromanage and let department heads do their job,” Brown said.

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