Abbotsford gives Witmer Furniture TIF incentive
By Neal Hogden
A local business will be getting $41,912 back from the city of Abbotsford after applying for a Tax Incremental Finance (TIF) incentive through the city. Witmer Furniture, which is located on the west end of the city, asked for 20% of new increment after the company put on a 20,000 square foot addition that cost the company $962,000 in 2022. The estimated assessment in the application showed the new expansion would be worth $650,000.
The expansion is expected to generate a total of $209,560 in tax revenue for the city over the 13 remaining years of the TIF district. With the money Witmer Furniture would get back, the company said in its application that it would have three main uses for the money:
■ ■ The company was looking to add a second shift to the manufacturing operations which would include the creation of roughly 20 new positions.
■ ■ The company would spend money on expanding employee, shipping and receiving parking lot area to include a completed asphalt surface in 2024.
■ ■ The company would also install a catch basin in front of the building to assist with water run off. As of the date of the application, this project was expected to be completed in June of 2023.
City Administrator Josh Soyk said Witmer Furniture was talking about more expansions in the future as well.
In 2023, the application was voted on by the Abbotsford planning commission and it was approved. The city did not have the funds budgeted in 2023 to move forward with the application so the council heard the proposal early in 2024.
Alderman Mason Rachu said there’s one simple reason the city would send the company a check for $41,912.
“We’re helping their business grow,” he said.
Soyk said the city has done things like this before and said TIF incentives can look like the one Witmer is receiving or can be included when purchasing land from the city.
The council passed the incentive, unanimously.
New plow truck
The council approved the purchase of a new, 2024 Peterbilt plow/dump truck in the amount of $205,000 for the public works department. Public Works Director Craig Stuttgen said the city’s current dump truck they are looking to replace was built in 2001. He said the department has welded the frame and box back together in various spots and has done about all it can do to keep the truck in operation for as long as possible but it is time for an upgrade. The truck Stuttgen was looking at was being sold by the Midwest Peterbilt Group in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“This truck is spec’d exactly like our
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Mack is with an 11-foot box and an automatic transmission,” Stuttgen said. “It’s basically exactly the way we would spec it.”
He said the city normally works with a truck dealer out of Eau Claire. However, the dealer said it would be an additional $15,000 to set up a Mack truck with the same specifications. Stuttgen said the dealer was able to get him a truck for a similar price of the truck in Iowa, but he said he couldn’t guarantee that the plow and box would be as cheap as the truck in Iowa.
Stuttgen said he called Monroe Equipment and they are one - two years away from being able to fulfill orders for box and plow mounting. For this reason, he wished to purchase the truck in Iowa.
Soyk said there were various accounts that could help pay for the truck up front within the public works and water departments.
Alderman Jeremiah Zeiset asked if there would be any other purchases in the near future that Stuttgen would need the money for. Stuttgen said their oldest piece of equipment is a grader that was built in 1992. He said overall, the department is in a much better spot equipment-wise than when he started.
“When I started here, they were putting $12,000 a year in savings for vehicles, Stuttgen said. “I took the cost of replacement on every vehicle if I were to have traded it in that day and showed that we needed to be putting in at least $55,000 per year to get caught up.
“We’re still catching up, but we will have updated everything but one piece of equipment if we get the Peterbilt truck.”
Stuttgen said he was looking at a used truck that was 10 years older but said he thought spending $65,000 more for a new truck was worth the cost.
■ ■ The city will be getting the 11 lots originally sold to Straight Shot Investments, LLC in the Sportsman’s Addition back, Soyk announced at the meeting. He said there is already at least one buyer interested in putting duplexes up on a portion of the land.
■ ■ The city approved the purchase of a retirement gift for former police chief Jason Bauer. The gift will cost about $500 but the council agreed that was a fair price for someone who gave 28 years of service to the city of Abbotsford.
■ ■ Soyk said the four properties that the council wished to have inspected and possible raze orders issued for have been in progress. He said three out of the four properties have been issued raze orders and the last one will be inspected later in February.
■ ■ Stuttgen said Red Arrow Park was awarded a grant from the Christensen Foundation to install concrete and AstroTurf in the batting cages at the baseball field. The city public works department will be pouring concrete for the project when the conditions are right.
■ ■ Dan Borchardt of MSA recommended that the city begin the process of creating a Main Street committee for the North First Street project that is scheduled to begin in 2025. The committee will have some say in what can be done with the street and boulevard areas to beautify the area. Soyk said he would be asking business and building owners on First Street if they would like to be on the committee.
■ ■ The council was notified that the Central Fire and EMS District had purchased a new ambulance and it was delivered last week. The truck will be sent off to have decals placed and equipment outfitted before it is put into service. The truck is a new, custom built 2023 F-550 Braun Chief XL.
■ ■ Stuttgen said because there hasn’t been much snow to plow, the city public works crew has been spending more time mapping utilities such as pipes to see which water mains might be next on the list to be replaced.
NEW AMBULANCE - The newest addition to the Central Fire and EMS District was delivered on February 2.
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