In a unique move, the Wells County Council approved a tax abatement on $10 million of fiber optics that Heartland REMC plans to install in Wells County.

The 10-year abatement is just for equipment being installed in Wells County. The project should lead to the hiring of four to six more employees, as well as the hiring of local contractors to do the construction work.

The total project for the Heartland service area is $51.5 million, said Nick Caley, member services and key accounts manager for Heartland REMC.

Caley was joined at Tuesday night’s meeting by Wells County Economic Development Director Chad Kline. The two started this process two months ago.

More than a half hour of discussion led up to the vote, for which Todd Mahnensmith, Mike Mossburg, Jim Oswalt, Vicki Andrews, Steve Huggins, Chuck King and Seth Whicker all voted in favor.

Mossburg expressed concern about the request on a project that won’t lead to a substantial amount of additional hires. However, the project was supported by Kline and a few council members as an economic development enhancement that many people in the community have asked for, from schools to real estate agents.

Earlier in the meeting Tuesday, a public hearing was held for a “declaratory resolution designating all unincorporated areas of Wells County as an economic development revitalization area for real and personal property tax abatements.”

This hearing was needed before any further action on the REMC matter could be taken. No comments or concerns were shared and the motion to approve the resolution was unanimously approved.
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