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Hillsborough okays tax incentives for cardboard recycler

Celadon Development, which is considering other sites, would receive a seven-year property tax exemption worth $2.4 million.

TAMPA — Hillsborough County commissioners are trading future tax payments for a shot at some recycled cardboard.

A commissioners majority agreed Wednesday to a seven-year property tax exemption as an incentive to try to lure a proposed cardboard and paper recycling plant to land at Port Tampa Bay. The approval came after a hearing on the proposed tax exemption drew no public comment.

Celadon Development Corp. sought the tax break as it decides where to locate its planned $160 million plant. It is expected to create 96 new jobs paying an average yearly salary of $55,675, slightly above the average annual private-sector wage in Hillsborough County.

The tax break would begin in 2025 and be worth $346,000 annually for each of the seven years for a total exemption of $2.4 million

The company plans to lease the land from Port Tampa Bay and construct a 335,000-square-foot recycling facility with the metal-framed building costing $46.5 million. It would be outfitted with $114 million worth of equipment and supplies. The plant will wash, dry and recycle used cardboard and paper into sheets of paperboard fiber that will be exported to markets outside the U.S.

Related: Tampa eyed for $160 million cardboard recycling plant

The property is at the corner of Guy N. Verger Boulevard and Gatx Drive that once served as the home of Winner Metals, a scrap metal recycling company. The land is designated as a brownfield under Hillsborough County Environmental Protection Commission management.

Celadon plans to build two plants and the sites under consideration besides Tampa are Houston, , Mobile, Ala. Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C. and Norfolk, Va. in the south and Tacoma, Wash. and Vancouver and Montreal, Canada in the north, according to its application seeking the property tax exemption.

All of the the cities have access to the Asian market through their ports and available stock for recycling. The Tampa property’s drawbacks, the application said, include increased ocean carrier costs, brownfield site remediation, land costs, and higher utility rates compared to the other sites.

“Celadon is currently investigating other site options that are offering significantly higher levels of tax and discretionary incentives. Securing a property tax abatement is important in ensuring the location is cost-competitive,” stated the application signed by Tim Zosel, Celadon’s chief executive officer.

In two separate votes, commissioners approved the proposal Wednesday. Commissioners Mariella Smith and Pat Kemp dissented on creating the ordinance allowing the tax break with Celadon. Only Smith voted against the actual contract agreement between the county and the company, citing future budget constraints from the pandemic-reduced revenues.

“I think we’re going to need to be especially careful about letting any one company out of paying their fair share on taxes,” she said.

The company said it plans to begin construction in the first quarter of 2021, according to county records.