Economic development agreements approved at Oct. 10 meeting
By Dana Trumbull
Scouts from Troop #758, San Tan Valley, attended the October 10 Pinal County Board of Supervisors meeting as a requirement to earn their citizenship merit badge. Over the course of the two-hour meeting, they were able to observe a fair sampling of the issues and procedures that come before our county government for oversight, development and approval.
From the two citizens who spoke passionately during the Call to the Public about voting and the state’s ESSA proposition, to the San Tan Valley resident appealing property code compliance fines; from the deceptively dry minutia of the purchasing division report and consent agenda to decisions clearing the way for construction of the Nikola Motors and Lucid Motors manufacturing facilities in Coolidge and Casa Grande, respectively, this was a typical non-eventful, yet highly impactful slice of the American pie – the cooperative governance of the details that keep us all moving in the same general direction toward democratically selected goals.
By far the biggest topics of the day were a resolution in support of Utah-based Nikola Motors, Inc.’s application for Foreign Trade Subzone (FTZ) status for the pending Coolidge facility and a proposal to incur long-term financing for a land purchase near Casa Grande as a part of a development agreement with Lucid Motors. Both items passed unanimously.
Coolidge City Manager Rick Miller elaborated, “This [Nikola manufacturing plant] will be on about 430 acres. The project involves the construction of a one million square foot building, employing 1,800 people and representing an $800 million investment. Nikola is on a fast track to deliver a state of the art hydrogen-electric semi-truck to the world.
“The next steps following your resolution of support will be combining this package and sending it off to the FTZ Commission in Phoenix, then it goes on to the federal government for final approval there. This is an integral part of the reason they looked at Arizona; the FTZ designation is an incentive that interested them.”
According to www.phoenix.gov, “The FTZ program was established to encourage and expedite U.S. participation in international trade and is a mechanism for companies to manage their duty payments. Foreign-Trade Zones are considered outside the U.S. Customs territory, so goods received into FTZs are generally not subject to duties, tariffs or quotas until, and if, they leave the zone. Another benefit of FTZ status is that Arizona offers an approximate 74% reduction in real and personal property taxes for activated FTZs.
In a similar move intended to spur economic development and job growth in Pinal County, the BOS approved a proposal to incur a long term obligation for approximately $31 million for the acquisition of land, which will then be leased to Lucid Motors for the construction of their new manufacturing plant. The lease will include provisions for Lucid to purchase the land from the county at the end of year 4.
Excise Tax Revenue Obligations will be used to fund the land purchase. County Manager Greg Stanley assured supervisors that, although debt service payments are not known until bonds are secured, the lease payments over the course of the initial four years should cover the cost of debt service. “There is no intent to raise taxes on our residents in order to pay this back.”
The public hearing declaring the intent to incur debt occurred at the October 10 Board of Supervisors meeting, followed by the approval of the development agreement, lease and option to purchase at the October 31 meeting. Both were unanimous decisions.