The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 7, 2013

Turnout at canola TIF meeting light

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — About 10 people showed up to learn more about a proposed Tax Increment Finance district to provide incentive to bring a canola-processing plant to Enid.

If the TIF district ultimately is approved, it is expected to reimburse Northstar Agri Industries up to $15 million for the construction of a plant estimated to cost $200 million. The TIF district also would compensate the city of Enid more than $12 million for infrastructure improvements required to build the plant.

One person they heard from was Brent Kisling, executive director of Enid Regional Development Alliance.

“My parents farm up by Burlington,” Kisling said.

Kisling spoke about the benefit wheat farmers obtain by rotating canola with wheat, a purer crop.

“We’ve created a crop in our part of the country that has a lot of foreign material,” Kisling said.

Kisling said Oklahoma now is second in the nation for canola production.

Northstar was represented at the meeting by Clarence Leschied, who presented an overview of the company and showed photos of its plant in Hallock, Minn.

Wheat farmers see a 10 to 20 percent increase in yield when the crop is alternated with canola, Leschied said. Currently, Oklahoma yields are stagnant at 32 bushels per acre.

Nate Ellis, of The Public Finance Law Group, explained how the TIF works.

“A TIF district generally is a geographical area where the increases in ad valorem, instead of going to the ad valorem entities where it generally does, goes back into the project,” Ellis said.

The proposed TIF will expire in 2038, or sooner if it repays the $27 million, Ellis said.

One man asked for explanation of the difference between the TIF area and the TIF project area.

A woman asked about the potential impact on schools, with the canola plant expected to employ 55 workers who potentially would move to the area for the jobs.

Ellis explained as school enrollment increases — as it might with employees’ children — the state increases funding based on the number of students.

The meeting was the first of two public comment sessions to be held on the proposal.

The next public comment session will take place during an Enid City Commission meeting before the TIF proposal can be passed.

If the resolution is approved and the TIF district created, Northstar plans to have the canola plant fully operational by March 2015.

The Northstar canola plant would have an estimated $3.75 million annual payroll with 55 full-time jobs, according to company figures.