Leavenworth County commissioners revoke bond support for proposed Tyson chicken plant near Tonganoxie

Leavenworth County commissioners at their meeting Monday morning said they no longer are prepared to issue a key set of bonds for a controversial meatpacking plant proposed for a site south of Tonganoxie.

On a 2-1 vote, the County Commission rescinded a previous “resolution of intent” to issue $500 million in industrial revenue bonds as part of a plan by Tyson Foods Inc. to build a chicken-processing facility south of Tonganoxie. The bonds are a key part of the project because they would make the facility eligible for an 80 percent property tax abatement for 10 years.

A Tyson spokesman said the company was disappointed by the vote and is considering its options.

“We’re disappointed by the commission’s reversal on revenue bonds,” said Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Tyson. “The commission’s prior approval was part of state and local efforts to persuade Tyson Foods to locate in Leavenworth County. It was one of the factors we considered when determining where to locate our new poultry complex. We’re evaluating our options in light of today’s vote.”

Whether the County Commission’s latest vote holds, though, is up in the air. Clyde Graeber, one of the three members on the Leavenworth County Commission announced his pending resignation from the commission for health reasons. Gov. Sam Brownback, who is a supporter of the Tyson plant, will play a role in the appointment of a new commissioner. With the commission split 2-1 on the Tyson issue, that means there could be a new majority on the commission following the appointment.

Graeber was one of the two commissioners who voted to rescind the bond resolution. Commissioner Robert Holland was the one dissenting vote.

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