Following in the steps of the Sherman City Council, the Grayson County Commissioners Court approved a five-year property tax abatement agreement valued at just over $100,000 for the new J.P. Hart Lumber plant. County Commissioners discussed the proposed abatement during a regular scheduled meeting Tuesday morning, but voted to go into recess and take no action until the Sherman City Council acted on a similar agreement. Commissioners approved the agreement in a special meeting Wednesday.


The city council approved an agreement during its first meeting of 2018 on Tuesday that will abate 50 percent of the company’s property taxes for three years, and abate 25 percent for two additional years.


“In the bigger picture, by abating these taxes today, we are sending a message that Grayson County is development friendly,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said Wednesday, following the meeting. “That is the message we are honing today.”


The agreement will be similar to the one approved Tuesday by the Sherman City Council, and will abate 50 percent of the county property taxes for the first three years before reducing to a 25 percent abatement for the remaining two years of the deal, Magers said. Based on the expected value of the development, Magers said, this deal would be worth about $108,000 in abated taxes over the lifetime of the agreement.


Magers said this agreement is a positive move for the county as it helps incentivize development and create future tax base with little cost to county taxpayers. The property was previously owned by the Sherman Economic Development Corp. and therefore not on tax rolls, so the county received no income from the property. While the county may be abating a portion of this future income, Magers said it helped secure income for the county as a whole.


“As I’ve been told in the past, it is better to receive half of something rather than all of nothing,” SEDCO President John Plotnik said during Wednesday’s meeting.


Through this abatement, Magers said Grayson County can remain competitive with other larger markets, including two in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that were scouted during J.P. Hart’s search for location sites.


“The J.P. Harts are the kinds of businesses that Sherman and Denison need to be investing in,” Magers said.


In addition to the two incentives approved by the city council and county commissioners, SEDCO also has approved an incentive agreement for the lumber producer. In 2016, SEDCO approved a $510,000 agreement with J.P. Hart, that will be distributed in four payments over the course of the next 10 years, officials said during Wednesday’s meeting.


In anticipation of opening its seventh plant in Texas, J.P. Hart Lumber purchased 35 acres of land from the SEDCO and has since invested $8 million in the location, Duane Sanders, Hart Lumber North Texas division president, said Wednesday. This investment includes $6.5 million in the construction of a facility on 15 acres of the property. This tract of land will leave additional space for future growth and development as the business expands, he said.


By midyear the company expects to employ about 29 workers, with wages expected to range from $12 to $18 an hour. Future growth and increases in its workforce will depend on the market, Sanders added.