Board OKs Lake Elmo tax abatment

Request part of package to bring Hudson firm’s headquarters to city


A tax abatement Lake Elmo wants to bring a western Wisconsin trucking company’s headquarters to the city was approved Tuesday by the Washington County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioners agreed to a four-year tax abatement not exceeding $5,000 annually and $20,000 over four years requested by Lake Elmo to bring Valley Cartage, Inc., headquarters to a building on Hudson Road from the company’s current Hudson, Wis., location.

The abatement agreement also calls on Valley Cartage to create at least 20 new jobs by Dec. 31, 2015, or return all tax abatement payments paid by the county by April 1, 2016. If Valley Cartage fails to reach that job goal, the abatement agreement is “null and void.”

Lake Elmo City Administrator Dean Zuleger said Valley Cartage will use the first floor of a multi-story building at 8665 Hudson Boulevard. Another unrelated company will remain on the second floor of the building, he added.

Zuleger said Valley Cartage plans to bring up to 50 jobs to the Lake Elmo location paying from $35,000 to $90,000 annually.

“This is a new era in Lake Elmo as we see it,” he said. “We know it sets a precedent. We think this is well worth the investment.”

Zuleger said the state Department of Employment and Economic Development provided a $5,000 loan as part of the city’s recruitment of Valley Cartage.

“Lake Elmo was in competition with River Falls (Wis.),” he said.

Commissioners expressed support for Lake Elmo’s tax abatement request.

“There’s little political risk to the county on this. We want to be as friendly as possible,” said Commissioner Gary Kriesel. “This is not a freebie. They’re still going to pay some tax.”

Board Chairwoman Lisa Weik added that she learned through Internet research that Valley Cartage has been Andersen Corp.’s primary carrier for the last seven years.
“These are living wage jobs,” she said. “I do not see this as a large risk.”