BURLEY • The Burley City Council eased the way Monday for the McCain Foods expansion, approving the city’s fourth urban renewal project so the Burley Development Authority can provide the infrastructure.

The council unanimously approved motions to declare the area an Urban Renewal Deteriorated Area and to establish the fourth urban renewal project.

“I’m just really glad we can help McCain’s,” said council President Casey Andersen.

In August, McCain announced it would invest $100 million in a new building and a third production line at its plant west of Burley.

City Administrator Mark Mitton said the expansion will almost double the plant’s capacity, but two-thirds of what the company does now will be done in the new portion of the plant on the same site.

“What we told them we’d do for them — to bring a lot of new assessed value and 130 high-paying jobs with benefits — is that we’d help them with infrastructure requirements that would qualify under tax-increment financing,” Mitton said.

Tax-increment financing allows cities and other governmental entities to cover certain costs of a new or expanding business, which later will provide higher tax payments and, sometimes, jobs.

U.S. 30 “is inadequate for the traffic they have now,” Mitton said.

The road must be widened to four lanes, with a center turn lane, to accommodate the expansion. The plant also will need a new power substation, gas lines and possibly rail line upgrades.

The company has its own water and sewer system on site.

“What do you anticipate the increased value to be after the improvements are made?” asked Councilman Steve McGill.

The company estimates $180 million in construction costs, but the taxable value will be about $100 million, as the rest includes engineering fees and other such costs, Mitton said.

Cassia County Commissioner Paul Christensen, who attended, asked how much the infrastructure will cost, but Mitton said that number wasn’t yet available.

The plant in operation now will remain on the tax rolls, with an offset for the old buildings that will be torn down behind the plant.

Also unknown, Mitton said, is how many years the new facility will be in the revenue allocation area. That’s determined by repayment ability, and the maximum by law is 20 years.

“That’s all in the numbers we are still crunching,” Mitton said.

McCain employs 550 people at its plant in unincorporated Cassia County west of Burley.

The third line is expected to open in late 2015.

A public hearing will be held after Jan. 1, and the project will have to undergo the county’s planning and zoning process, Mitton said.

An ordinance will have to be enacted, too, to allow the Burley Development Authority to work in the county on the project.

When the authority organized the original Urban Renewal area, McCain Foods was exempted, Mitton said.

The council also unanimously approved an agreement to move seven electrical poles for the new Bobcat Corner fuel station being built on Idaho 30 west of Burley and to move guy wires on Eastern Idaho Railroad property for the same project.

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