The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

February 16, 2014

Koch seeks TIF district

ENID, Okla. — Koch Nitrogen will go before the Garfield County Commission Tuesday to seek support for its plans to invest $1 billion to upgrade and expand the Koch plant and fertilizer processing facility east of Enid.

Koch will ask commissioners to create a TIF review committee, the first step in securing a financial incentive for the plant expansion.

TIF stands for Tax Increment Financing, a tool used by government subdivisions to take a portion of the incremental increase on property taxes for a period of time to put back into the facility to help defray costs associated with substantial construction. Similar TIF districts were created for the planned Oakwood Mall renovation, a new canola plant and other large projects completed in the past few years.

The plan is being shepherded by the Enid Regional Development Alliance. Executive Director Brent Kisling said this is one of the major steps in pushing construction forward that will ultimately employ 600 to 800 construction workers and an additional 20 to 30 permanent employees at the plant.

Koch’s plans increase the capacity of the nitrogen plant by 1 million tons per year. It also will mean the largest capital expenditure in the history of Garfield County, he added.

The TIF review committee would be made up of seven members. Three at-large members who live in the county, and four representing each of the impacted taxing entities: Garfield County, the county health department, Pioneer-Pleasant Vale Public Schools and Autry Technology Center.

All meetings of the committee will be open to the public.

Garfield County commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Tuesday with Koch officials to discuss the creation of the committee. If it’s approved, Kisling expects the work to be done within two or three months.

“There’s a lot of things that could happen. It could come together very quickly but I like to guess high and be surprised,” he said.

Kisling praised the commissioners for their interest in learning more about the plan.

“This is something new for the county, and I have been very impressed with their aggressive approach to this and trying to work with Koch to make this a reality,” he said.

Assuming the TIF is ultimately approved, construction is projected to begin late this year and could be completed in 2017.

Koch’s expansion could mean more available drinking water for the city. Right now, the plant uses about 6 million gallons of fresh water each day. With the planned changes, Koch would be able to replace 5 million gallons with used, or gray water, that’s currently being treated and flows into a local creek.

“What Koch is doing on the water side of this project is not something they’d have to do. They want to do it because they want to be a good corporate citizen,” Kisling said. “I’ve just been very impressed with their attitudes through this whole project.”

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