Manufacturing projects could bring jobs to Milam County
Milam County may soon have a new major employer.
Tommy Hodges addressed Milam County Commissioners during a meeting Monday about the possibility of a new business coming to the Alcoa site outside of Rockdale.
Hodges said that American Statesman Glove Company has narrowed its site selection for a new manufacturing plant to Rockdale and a site in Delaware.
The company manufactures nitrile gloves and plans to build three large facilities and employ about 1,500 people to make the gloves. Hodges said the jobs would pay in the $60,000 range.
Hodges said in the first quarter of last year there were no medical supplies and we couldn’t get them because they are manufactured off-shore. In fact 97 percent of gloves are made off-shore. At that time he was approached by American Statesman Glove Company about the 200 acres on Sandow Lakes Ranch.
The plant will have three manufacturing facilities worth $775 million. They want to be in production by the beginning of 2023.
“We have everything the need here,” Hodges said. “Water, power and land.”
“Naturally, the company would like a favorable tax abatement and the site with the most favorable will certainly be the front runner,” Milam County Judge Steve Young said. “We want to be in the driver’s seat and we are going to work hard to land this deal here in Milam County. We have visited with the CEO of the new company and I am confident that we can hammer out an agreement that will responsibly represent the interests of both sides.”
If Milam County is selected, construction on the first building could begin as early as the first quarter of 2022 and operations could commence as early as the first quarter of 2023.
Hodges said that currently nitrile gloves are made outside the country, so this would be a huge step to insure the supply chain in the U.S.
Commissioners approved retaining legal counsel with a tax abatement application for Project Saratoga, which is the American Statesman Glove Company. They set Oct. 25 for a public hearing.
Hodges said there are other companies looking at the former Alcoa site. He said that there is a water project going on that will transport water for use at the potential Samsung plant in Taylor.
Samsung should formally announce this week that it will build a $17 billion chip plant just west of Taylor on about 2,000 acres. This is the largest single investment ever made in Texas. The plant will employ about 1,800 individuals.
Young said that project will provide jobs for Milam County and much needed sales tax for the county.
Young also discussed a potential regional training center that the county is working with Temple College on to bring to the county.
This training center will be built with funds from a Build Back Stronger Grant that the county is in the process of applying for.
Tax rate and budget
Commissioners also approved the 2021-22 budget and tax rate during the meeting.
They adopted a tax rate of 73 cents per $100 valuation with a maintenance and operation tax rate of around 67 cents per $100 valuation and a interest and sinking fund rate of around 5 cents per $100 valuation.
They also approved the tax split of 65 percent to the general fund and 35 percent to the precinct funds.
They adopted a budget of $22,871,836.
Before the approval of the tax rate and budget Commissioner Henry Hubnik said that he has had several people voice their opinion on the proposed tax rate.
“Everybody has been seeing that there would be an $11,000 pay raise for the commissioners,” he said. “That is not what I put it for. I put in for the same exact budget that I got last year. I am working with that budget and staying under it. Since we are giving this money to the small businesses, why can’t we go with the same tax rate and budget they had last year and give the taxpayers a COVID break. We aren’t the only ones struggling with the price of things.”
Hubnik said he would like to see the county lower the taxes to pay the same that was paid last year by taxpayers.
Young said that because the county couldn’t afford to increase everyone’s pay they did not increase the commissioners pay, they put the money into the road and bridge fund to pay for roads and such.
“For the last several years property tax values have increased and they will continue to do so,” Young said. “We have gotten more money as a result of that, but the money we have gotten from that we need to pay the bills and provide the same services we have always provided. In fact the extra money provided doesn’t even cover that.”
Young said that when he became judge and Alcoa and Luminant closed the county reduced the amount of money given to the precincts but that money was given back in 2019.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to approve the budget and tax rate with Hubnik voting against.
The court also took up several other topics including signing a proclamation for Constitution Week presented by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Constitution week is held annually on Sept. 17-23. For more information about the DAR you can contact Lou Wenzel at (254) 605-4009. The group will meet on Sept. 18 at the First Methodist Church Family Life Center in Cameron at 10 a.m. All are invited to attend.