Chobani Property Assessed at More Than $331 Million

Image TWIN FALLS • Yogurt giant Chobani’s main site is assessed at $331,847,441, including land, buildings, machinery and equipment. That number from Twin Falls County Assessor Gerry Bowden is in the ballpark of what the Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency expected, URA Executive Director Melinda Anderson said last week.Property taxes collected from Chobani — roughly estimated at $5.7 million — will go toward a $34.5 million bond that the URA used to attract and accommodate the company, Anderson said. The bond paid for expansion of the city’s wastewater treatment plant and other infrastructure projects.

“Once I knew what the valuation was, I was like ‘Yes!’ We estimated within a range that turned out to be accurate, so now we know we can pay the bond,” Anderson said.

Based on the county’s valuation, Anderson said, she estimates Chobani will pay about $5.7 million in property taxes this year, and $4.8 million of that will be used to make the first bond payment in April. After that, the annual minimum payments toward the bond will drop to $2.7 million, she said.

If the URA gets more than the minimum needed, the excess will go to pay extra on the bond or for more infrastructure projects.

Various city and county entities, such as schools and rural fire units, usually receive funding from county property tax revenues. In this case, the URA will collect all property taxes from Chobani until the bond is paid, which is expected to take 20 years or less. Before Chobani came, the land it sits on was valued at less than $5 million, Anderson said. County and city departments will continue to collect taxes on that original value. And after the bond is paid off, Chobani’s property taxes will go to the usual recipients rather than to bond payments.

County agencies may be rubbing their hands together waiting for that bond to be paid, but Anderson hasn’t gotten any calls from people disappointed that the URA will get all the money.

“Those taxes wouldn’t be being paid by Chobani if Chobani hadn’t come here,” she said. “Without the Urban Renewal assistance for Chobani to come to Twin Falls, they would have gone someplace else.”

Chobani is required to cover the annual bond payment itself if the taxes it pays amount to less than $2.7 million, said City Manager Travis Rothweiler.

“The financing package is incredibly robust,” Rothweiler said. “That way there’s no risk or exposure to the URA, the city or Zion’s Bank (the bond’s financier).”

Because construction of the yogurt facility is incomplete, the assessor’s office deducted 25 percent of its market value this year, Rothweiler said. When Chobani finishes construction, its value will be more than $331,847,441, he said, allowing the URA to pay off the bond early.

“With the extra 25 percent that the assessor deducted, there will be more money to repay the bond and to fund additional infrastructure projects,” Rothweiler said. “We’re anticipating early repayment if all the projects are complete.”(
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07