A tax-increment financing (TIF) agreement between the Union County commissioners and Hi-Q Egg Products LLC is out of the question, according to a letter issued by the county on May 27.

A tax-increment financing (TIF) agreement between the Union County commissioners and Hi-Q Egg Products LLC is out of the question, according to a letter issued by the county on May 27.

Commissioners Tom McCarthy, Gary Lee and Charles Hall signed the letter drafted by county engineer Jeff Stauch and sent to Hi-Q as part of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) permitting process.

The letter was sent in response to comments made by Hi-Q attorney Kevin Braig when he answered questions posed by the commissioners in May.

Hi-Q is seeking permits from ODA to construct an egg-laying facility between state Route 47 and Davis Road in York Township.

If the permits are approved, Hi-Q will construct 15 layer houses with 400,000 layers each, with a total design capacity for 6-million chickens.

From the beginning, the commissioners have expressed concerns about what the construction of the facility -- and the trucks moving in and out of it -- with regard to county road use.

In a letter dated May 4, the commissioners wanted to know how Hi-Q plans to provide assurances that proper road repairs can be funded in the future should damages occur after the company was unable to obtain federal stimulus money.

"Tax revenue from the Hi-Q project will be available for road maintenance," Braig said in a May 12 letter to the commissioners. "In addition, as stated in the letter of Hi-Q's counsel to the Union County engineer dated Feb. 11, 2009, Hi-Q is willing to try to reach an agreement on a TIF agreement. It is Hi-Q's understanding that a TIF agreement is typically the mechanism that is used for this situation. If York Township or Union County is interested in pursuing such an arrangement, please just let Hi-Q know."

The response from the commissioners was swift and firm.

"General tax revenue generated by the proposed Hi-Q site will not fund road improvements," said the commissioners. "Hi-Q's assertion that sufficient tax revenue is available through the use of TIFs is also incorrect."

Research by the county engineer shows that TIF revenue from egg farms in other states is not substantial enough to properly fund necessary road improvements, according to the county's letter.

"More importantly, the Union County commissioners have stated they have no interest in a TIF for the proposed Hi-Q project and as a matter of policy have discussed TIFs as a tool to be used only for projects that create or preserve high-quality, high-paying jobs or projects with far-reaching community benefits that would not be possible without such a financing vehicle," Stauch said, as he drafted the letter for the commissioners. "Hi-Q's proposal does not fit that definition."

In the same letter, the commissioners turned the tables and asked if Hi-Q will agree to post a bond to pay for repairs and improvements to the roads as anticipated by the county engineer.

If not, they asked how Hi-Q will indemnify the county or if it will provide written assurances that proper repairs determined by the county engineer can be funded in the future.

Along with the issues of TIF agreements and funding for road repairs, the commissioners sought clarifications on five of nine questions previously asked of Hi-Q.

They wanted to know if a feed mill for the proposed site will supply feed to other facilities; if the pullet farm is expected to be part of the operation and what transportation will occur between the two facilities; if processed wastewater will irrigate only the proposed Hi-Q egg laying facility or if it refers to all owned property; how far manure will be shipped and on what routes; and the relationship of the area parcels to Hi-Q.

Only one of the nine previously posed questions, according to the commissioners, was adequately addressed. Braig said information that Hi-Q provided at a Feb. 3 meeting remained current with regard to vehicle volumes, peak hour patterns and weights expected.

The commissioners voiced their objections to the use of Davis Road as an entrance to the proposed facility during a Dec. 17 hearing. They also complained that communications with Hi-Q officials were less than satisfactory from their point of view.

Hi-Q officials came back later to say that the planned entrance was revised and the facility will be accessed off state Route 47.

The commissioners remain skeptical, believing that a second entrance might be opened after the permitting process and complaining that county roads still will be used as a means of reaching the facility.