- Associated Press - Thursday, September 10, 2015

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Leaders in St. Joseph County are deciding how much they should offer in incentives to a company that has proposed a natural gas-fired electricity plant near New Carlisle.

A development agreement between St. Joseph Energy Center LLC, a partnership between Toyota and Ares EIF, and the county was set for a public hearing this week. But the hearing was canceled shortly before the scheduled time at the developer’s request.

The company plans to spend $500 million on the plant, which is expected to create 500 construction jobs over three years and 20 permanent full-time jobs, the South Bend Tribune (https://bit.ly/1igbltE ) reported.

Public incentives for the plant would total more than $80 million, with the potential of rising to $145.4 million if the company decides to double the size of the facility, according to County Council member Jamie O’Brien.

Under the agreement, the county would sell the developer $3.1 million in bonds, and then use the money to build a water treatment facility to remove iron and manganese from well water before it could be used by the plant. The company would repay those bonds with incremental tax property taxes from the tax increment financing district in New Carlisle. But the county would have to wait 18 years to see any new property tax revenue from the development due to the tax abatements involved, said City Council member Mark Telloyan.

Both O’Brien and Telloyan said they would’ve voted against the agreement if the public meeting had taken place on Tuesday night because they believe the incentive package is too large, and other county officials agree.

The county plans to send a counter-offer to the project’s developer, New York-based Development Partners Group LLC, in the next several days, said county commissioner president Andy Kostielney, but he declined to provide details.

The council is expected to revisit the development agreement on Sept. 22. A final decision could be made as soon as Oct. 13.

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, https://www.southbendtribune.com

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