Decatur City Schools will be one of the initial benefactors of $109.24 million in capital investments that will be made by four local industries.
The Industrial Development Board of Decatur approved $5.5 million in tax abatements Thursday for OCI Alabama, Yates Industries South, WHY Properties and three Nucor projects.
The projects will generate more than $4.2 million in revenue for Decatur, Hartselle and Morgan County public schools. Tax revenues dedicated to schools cannot be abated under state law.
Decatur schools will receive more than $3 million in revenue because Nucor is in the city limits.
The full amount of property taxes won’t kick in until the projects are complete, and at least one won’t be finished until 2023.
However, Jeremy Nails, president and CEO of the Morgan County Economic Development Association, said the schools will start collecting revenue during the construction period.
Decatur Chief Schools Financial Officer Melanie Maples said the money is much needed. She said the school system's fiscal 2020 budget will have to accommodate a state-approved 4% pay raise for educators, which will impact more than 100 locally funded teacher units.
Nails said the expansions are a good sign because they mean stability.
“If a company is not expanding, we should be concerned about whether it can stay competitive,” Nails said.
Councilman Charles Kirby, a longtime critic of the IDB and tax abatements, said he appreciates these companies making plans to expand or make improvements.
“It’s hard to criticize a local company that’s making an investment in our community,” Kirby said.
Gaines said Nucor’s projects are aimed at modernization and creating a higher value product to overcome what the company says is the threat of illegal trade and the dumping of low-grade steel.
“Our high-margin product will be used in more specialty products like automobiles and pipes,” Gaines said.
Nucor is planning $72.2 million in major enhancements to the melting, rolling and shipping areas at its manufacturing plant on Iverson Boulevard. The enhancements are meant to improve employee safety, product quality and mill reliability while lowering costs.
The project will begin on or before Aug. 1 with completion expected on or before January 2023.
Nucor plans to spend $26.86 million installing a new system to convey direct reduced iron from new storage silos into the electric furnaces. This would improve the efficiency of Nucor’s manufacturing process.
The project is expected to begin Aug. 1 with completion on or before January 2021.
The plant also will spend $3.285 million to install product testing equipment and additional tools to improve product quality and the ability to manufacture and ship new products to customers.
The project is expected to begin in August with completion scheduled in or before June 2020.
Yates Industries South is planning a $1.7 million addition to its manufacturing and repair facility on Refreshment Place in the city’s police jurisdiction.
Forest Risberg, Yates plant manager, said his company plans to install a large computer numerical control (CNC) boring mill, which would one of the largest in north Alabama, and a large CNC lathe in a building leased from WHY Properties.
The Yates project, which would secure the company’s future in Decatur, is expected to create 15 jobs with an annual wage of $42,000, not including benefits or overtime.
Construction is expected to begin this month and be completed by January.
In addition to the Yates project, WHY plans to spend $1.7 million on almost doubling the size of the existing facility to 72,000 square feet. Construction will begin this month and be finished by January.
OCI Alabama is planning a $3.5 million second process line within the existing process building. This line will supply additional product volume, back-up production, and research and development capability.
OCI is a chemical manufacturer that makes sodium percarbonate, a dry bleach used in consumer products such as laundry detergent, laundry bleach and auto-dishwashing applications.
David Jones of OCI said his company exceeded capacity this year and the new line will increase capacity by 30 percent and “take some stress off of the current process.”
The OCI project is expected to create three new jobs at an annual salary of $41,000.