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Boone County public entities approve 114 million dollar Kraft expansion

Several Boone County agencies voted unanimously Friday to approve an expansion proposal from international food conglomerate Kraft Heinz.

The Columbia plant’s proposal would include a 75 percent tax break on the property taxes it will pay on the $114 million dollar expansion.

This would impact several public entities in Boone County that currently receive the revenue from Kraft’s property taxes as well as cut about 150 jobs.

The company had hinted the plant might take its business and remaining 350 jobs to other location if Boone County did not approve its proposal.

“Kraft currently has eight USDA approved and certified food-processing facilities in the country so this product line could honestly be moved to any one of those eight,” said Dave Griggs, the REDI chairman on the project. “It may not be logical in most cases but there’s certainly other facilities that would love to have this expansion.”

The facility will pay for the expansion with Chapter 100 Bonds, which means the county will lease the equipment and property to Kraft until it can pay off the loan with the bonds.

Additionally, the public entities impacted by the tax break, including Columbia Public Schools, Boone County Public Libraries, the city of Columbia, Boone County Family Resources, and Boone County Road and Bridge, had to weigh the positives and negatives of receiving only 25 percent of the new property tax.

“It’s a little better to have less in taxes for the time being with a potential for more in the long run than nothing at all,” said Boone County Library Board representative Dorothy Carner. “We don’t want to lose Kraft as our neighbors.”

According to Boone County Collector Brian McCollum, the tax break would not affect the current property tax revenue going to those entities.

“In fact, if this plan is approved, and the Chapter 100 program goes forward, the entities will actually see an increase in additional revenues that they would not have if this plan was not in place,” he said.

Carner said while it’s not ideal to lose 75 percent of the additional revenue, it’s better than losing Kraft and its jobs.

“No one really likes abatement in their entity because it takes away from services that we provide,” she said. “But we might have 500 fewer people to serve so I don’t think that we would have chosen to abandon our neighbors in this case.”

Kraft said it will not be laying people off, instead it will move people to part time or focus on people who are retirement age. Once a position opens up, they will not fill it with someone else.

Now that these entities have approved the proposal, it will go to the Boone County Commission for final approval.

It should have a first reading of the proposal by the end of this month and officials said if the plan is approved by the commission, it should be finalized by September.

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