City, County adjust policies after Coin-Tainer fire

The city of Milaca and Mille Lacs County have added a new piece of criteria for tax increment financing and tax abatements to help a business that has to rebuild due to a catastrophic event.
The County Board approved the change at its March 18 meeting, which occurred two weeks after the board discussed the idea during a workshop in light of the Coin-Tainer fire in Milaca.
Coin-Tainer is a major business whose manufacturing building in the Milaca industrial park was destroyed by fire Jan. 15. The plant employed 63 persons to mainly manufacture paper containers for holding coins. Since then, the owner has kept a number of the employees still supplying orders for customers through an arrangement with a competitor and plans to rebuild in the Milaca industrial park.
The specific change in the tax abatement policy reads that the following criteria is added for the county to evaluate when determining if it should grant a tax abatement: “In case of a catastrophic event, where both an existing building and the jobs have ceased to exist in the county.”
A few other changes were made as well, such as who the application must be addressed to and who reviews it. But the major change was the catastrophic-event criteria.
County Board Chairman Phil Peterson had said during the March 4 workshop that it is very costly to construct a new building and buy equipment to start up a manufacturing plant.
The city of Milaca, during its March 20 meeting, amended its business assistant policy as it relates to tax increment financing, tax abatements and other assistance programs.
While the city policy addressed different aid available to businesses, its policy did nothing to address situations that develop when there is a local incident like the Coin-Tainer fire, City Manager Greg Lerud said.
The city added a clause to its policy: In cases where, due to a catastrophic event both the existing building and the existing jobs have ceased to exist in the city of Milaca, the city will consider using a business assistance tool to assist private developments.

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