In a late night vote, the Mason City’s City Council rejected a development agreement with Prestage Farms and its subsidiary, Prestage Foods of Iowa. Prestage can still move forward with the plans to build the processing plant on the south end of town however without the financial incentive package.
Originally, the agreement included a payment of $1.4 million by Prestage Foods to Mason City schools over the next 10 years and required a 2.5 mile buffer zone for new hog farms around Mason City and Clear Lake. Before the final vote, the development agreement was amended to increase the minimum taxable valuation of the property from $100 to $125 million, reports local media.
Opponents of the processing plant loudly voiced concerns over environmental issues, damaging property values and having to accommodate non-English speaking workers. The debate over the plant lead to a final vote of 3-3. Mayor Eric Bookmeyer could not legally cast a tie-breaking vote, due to the size of the financial incentives involved.
The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board has already agreed to provide Prestage Foods about $11.5 million in tax incentives and $3.3 million in job training assistance. However, the state incentive is dependent on a local development agreement.