Richmond Common Council grants Hill's Pet Nutrition a 10-year, 95% tax abatement

RICHMOND, Ind. — Richmond Common Council approved a 10-year, 95% tax abatement Monday on new production equipment for Hill's Pet Nutrition.

The tax abatement had been presented at council's Nov. 1 meeting and referred to its tax abatement committee. Richmond Councilor Doug Goss said the committee met with Hill's last week and recommended approval.

Richmond Council President Larry Parker said he was impressed during the visit to Hill's plant at 2325 Union Pike.

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"We certainly thank you for staying in Richmond and expanding," said Parker, adding he hopes Hill's will return and ask for more tax relief when further expanding in Richmond.

Sherrilyn Johnson, the plant manager for Hill's, told council the local facility began production in June 1991. Hill's develops and manufactures nutrition for companion animals based on an animal's life stage, health condition and size.

She said the expansion investment will exceed $17 million and create 64 new jobs. It's scheduled in two parts. The first is to convert to seven-days-a-week production and the second to add an additional production line.

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"The part that's already started is a $4 million investment this year that expands our product portfolio, and the other part that's already started is we're moving forward with 46 of the 64 positions," Johnson said.

She said hiring was going pretty well and that as part of a regular cycle starting wages were increased last week to $19.75.

Council member Ron Oler said the tax abatement is a "good tradeoff" of about $500,000 in lost tax revenue for about $2.5 million in salaries.

Council voted unanimously to approve the abatement.

The Economic Development Corporation of Wayne County board of directors and the Wayne County commissioners already approved a $203,000 EDIT grant for Hill's. Wayne County Council has allocated that money.

Hill's found it qualified for the abatement while competing with facilities in Kentucky and Kansas for the investment. .

"It also was a great opportunity for us to show our corporate partners who sit in Kansas the support of the community behind the growth that we're experiencing, which is very important in that second phase," Johnson said.

The base tax abatement is for 75%; however, Hill's exceeded higher standards to receive the extra 20 percentage points. Hill's received an additional 10 percentage points by investing more than $15 million, an extra 5 for creating more than 50 new jobs and another 5 percentage points because wages exceed $18.13 per hour, which is 2½ times the state's minimum wage.

In addition Monday, council approved an amendment to the 2021 salary ordinance that increased by $5,000 the salary for the director of public works and engineering to $66,443. The increase is for assuming responsibility for building and grounds maintenance for the Richmond Municipal Building and is standard for the person with that responsibility.

Council also approved acceptance of a $2,500 donation from Reid Health for the Beat the Heat Watch Campaign that occurred Aug. 24.

This article originally appeared on Richmond Palladium-Item: Richmond Council grants Hill's Pet Nutrition 10-year, 95% tax abatement