Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2018

Heartland Co-op: big impact on county property taxes

By Nicole Major, Ledger staff writer | Oct 12, 2017

“It’s pretty substantial; the majority of it is going to the school system,” said Jefferson County Assessor Steve Wemmie about the property taxes that Heartland Co-op is bringing into the county.

According to the Jefferson County Assessor’s website, of the three properties combined that Heartland owns in the county, it’s bringing in a whopping $337,860 in property taxes.

Wemmie said that earlier this month, the firm paid half its taxes.

Situated on Nutmeg Avenue, the grain elevator was assessed at more than $14 million. Heartland also purchased two other properties as part of the deal — a house on the north edge of the plant, valued at $75,000, and a parcel of land assessed at $21,000.

“The [Jefferson] County Board of Supervisors approved a tax rebate for the county’s portion of the firm’s first year of property taxes. Heartland’s total Jan. 1, 2015 property taxes were $89,350. However, the county won’t rebate the full amount, because $5,060 were the land taxes before development.” said Jefferson County deputy auditor Shannon Pearson. “The property taxes on the development during the first year, were $84,290. The county levied $30,662, which it rebated. The county is only rebating its portion of Heartland’s property taxes until the total reaches the firm’s first year’s taxes on the improvements, which is $84,290. I have a feeling that it will be reached this year.”

Besides the county, other levying authorities include the Fairfield Community School District, the Jefferson County Health Center and the township.

“The assessor’s office levies separate from the county,” Wemmie said.

County supervisor Lee Dimmitt said Heartland had been a huge benefit to Jefferson County during the last three years, outside of its substantial property taxes.

“Obviously, when you consider the breakdown of those taxes and how it helps the community, we’re seeing benefits,” Dimmitt said. “They invested $27 million into our county, and at the risk of opening old wounds, they did so in the face of significant backlash in the community. Now we are seeing the benefit of jobs, benefits to producers and the direct benefit of property taxes as a whole.”

Dimmitt said that Heartland would likely expand in the future.

“I believe that in the near future, expansion will increase the property tax revenue as well,” he said.

Heartland Co-op manager Charlie White agreed.

“Last year, we exceeded the first year’s grain handled, and we’re looking to increase every year,” White said. “There’s nothing showing us that we can’t do that. We expanded Southeast Iowa to California, the Gulf Coast area of Louisiana, Texas and the country of Mexico within the last couple of years.

“It’s fantastic for producers, especially with the aging infrastructure of the Mississippi River. We’ve seen the Lock-and-Dam System have critical failures this fall, which impeded the flow of grain down the Mississippi to exporters. What that does, is increase the cost of freight and it decreases the revenue to the farmers, which is not good.”

White said that the rail system that Heartland employs, has been “steady.”

“We haven’t seen such wild swings. We are able to get the grain where it needs to go, which in turn, means profit for the producers,” he said. “I think we’ve worked hard to try to become good neighbors, and get assimilated into the community by being involved with the county fair and giving presentations and tours of the facility. We’re getting involved with community groups to help better explain what we do, and what we provide to Southeast Iowa farmers.”



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