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Kraft Heinz submits tax break compliance report

UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.: According to its compliance report, Kraft Heinz is keeping up its end of the bargain with the county.

The company retained an average of 370 jobs in 2017. In November, July and October the number of jobs dropped to 284, 293 and 280 respectively.

Plant manager Rob Bennett said that happens because things slow down for the business around the fourth quarter of the year when they do shutdowns and equipment rebuilds. It also fluctuates around their big holidays like Fourth of July and Memorial Day.

Commissioners said they weren’t concerned about the number dropping a few times but were glad to see that the 2017 average wage was $60,000, which is just about double the average wage.

“We appreciate the fact that not only are they paying such an exceptional wage but they’re also great corporate citizens here in Boone County,” said commissioner Fred Parry.

Parry said he thought the 75 percent abatement was a little much at first, but is glad to see that Kraft tries to give back to the community by donating more than 60,000 pounds of hot dogs to local food banks and pantries each year.

He said that he would like to see companies like Aurora Organic Dairy, which received a 75 percent tax abatement in the past year, give back in that way.

“We want companies who receive this type of assistance to be good corporate citizens,” he said. “To whom much is given, much should be expected.”

ORIGINAL STORY: The Boone County Commission is set to consider a compliance report submitted by international food conglomerate Kraft Heinz.

The commission approved Kraft for a tax break through Chapter 100 bonds back in 2015. The agreement between the entities was that Kraft must retain at least 300 jobs that are paid at or above the local minimum wage. That figure is $17.44, or $36,284 annually.

The company must retain the minimum, or the abatement will be adjusted. Right now, Kraft has a 75 percent property tax abatement, but if the number of jobs it retains drops below 300, the abatement is adjusted to 50 percent.

County counsel CJ Dykhouse told ABC17 News at the time of the agreement, the requirement of a a minimum amount of jobs and a compliance report stemmed partly from criticism of the city of Columbia’s deal with IBM. In 2010, the company received a $28 million tax break in exchange for the promise of more than 800 jobs, which never materialized, resulting in the suspension of their tax credits and programs in 2015.

Dana Light Axel Products, LLC, American Outdoor Brands and Aurora Organic Dairy all received tax breaks from the county after Kraft. They are also required to retain a minimum amount of well-paid jobs and submit compliance reports.

Kraft is required to submit its report on Oct. 31 each year.

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