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AUSTIN EDITION County lends support to ethanol plant

A public hearing for Absolute Energy's request for public assistance has tentatively been set for 1 p.m. Jan. 17 in the commissioner's room of the Mower County Courthouse.

By John Weiss

weiss@postbulletin.com

The Mower County Board went on record Tuesday as supporting a proposed ethanol plant in the Lyle area, but it didn't go so far as to agree to the tax abatements, loans and other financial help Absolute Energy wants.

The board's resolution states the county wants to promote businesses that help the farm economy by providing market alternatives. It also notes that Absolute would add jobs and expand the tax base.

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In return, Absolute is seeking public help with abatement of property taxes, a loan and county help in getting governmental grants.

Because of its potential impact, the board said Tuesday it will "strongly consider Absolute Energy's economic assistance request." It also said it needs more information, such as what kind of loans Absolute wants, the impact of tax abatement bonds on the county's bonding capacity, the impact of assistance on the county's other needs, such as for roads, and the potential for requests for help from other companies.

The board agreed to spend $5,000 for consultants to help it look at the Absolute request.

Board Chairman Ray Tucker said the county is working on a policy on whether to give tax abatements and how to use them. Its proposed policy would set minimum wages and also maximum amounts the county could loan a company. Businesses would need to have at least 10 jobs, but no more than 40, according to the proposed policy.

Each project would be looked at on its own merits, he said.

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