Box Elder tax increment program for biofuels company is on hold

Saturday , June 16, 2018 - 5:00 AM

BRIGHAM CITY — An economic development program created to help Washakie Renewable Energy expand its biofuels business in Box Elder County is on hold.

The county created the Washakie Project Area in 2014 with the aim to improve a road expected to see heavy truck traffic as the company’s operations expand near Plymouth. But the anticipated expansions, including construction of a soybean crush plant, have not yet occurred to justify activating the program.

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The development program calls for a seven-year tax increment window in which more than $2 million in tax revenue would become available to pay for infrastructure improvements, chiefly a county road that links the Washakie plant, at 7950 W. 24000 North Road, to Interstate 15.

“That road is not capable of handling heavy truck traffic” and would receive a new layer of asphalt, Box Elder Economic Development Director Mitch Zundel said Wednesday.

“We can pull the trigger until 2020 if the project comes in and there is a need for the road to be upgraded,” Zundel said.

The agency’s 2017 annual report said officials “may end up not triggering tax increment at all” for the project. “It is possible that a different company may come in and purchase the property within the Project Area, at which point different options may be explored.”

The economic development area creation document said the Washakie expansion would create 65 jobs. Tax increment plans are intended to help allow and hasten business expansion that in the long run are expected to repay the costs and generate greater overall tax revenue.

A message left with Washakie’s corporate office in Salt Lake City on Wednesday was not returned.

Meanwhile, the company and its CEO, Jacob Kingston of Tremonton, are locked in a federal court battle with LifeTree, a global biofuels trading company.

LifeTree in December won a civil judgment worth $32 million after a New York jury decided Washakie and Kingston were liable for fraudulently defaulting on a $90 million biofuels contract. Now, LifeTree is battling in Salt Lake City federal court for access to Kingston’s personal assets to pay the judgment.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt and like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEMarkShenefelt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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