Updated: 08/09/2013 5:50 PM
Created: 08/09/2013 2:27 PM KSTP.com
By: Maricella Miranda
Shakopee city leaders this week voted in support of the Internet-based company Shutterfly building its newest office in the south metro.
The city council approved the project in a 4-to-5 vote. The move would generate an estimated 329 jobs over the next two to five years - with 201 employees hired by next year, according to the city. The average annual wage for workers would be $18.78 per hour.
Seasonal employees would add 204 more full-time equivalent positions.
On Wednesday, Aug. 7, the city approved a nine-year property tax abatement deal, meaning Shutterfly wouldn't pay city taxes during that time, which is valued to be between $569,078 to $758,771. Shutterfly also wants the deal to include city sewer access charge credits.
Scott County leaders on Aug. 20 plan to vote on their part of the nine-year abatement, valued between $551,159 to $734,878 in county taxes. Shutterfly also is asking the county to help pay for connecting to the county's fiber infrastructure.
Some have questioned the project because of the tax abatement deal, said Samantha DiMaggio, economic development coordinator.
Councilman Matt Lehman voted against the plans because the council received little information about the project, he said Friday. The city recently has approved several abatement deals with companies, Lehman added. But the city hasn't decided on what criteria should be required for abatement projects, he said.
"We're all over the board," Lehman said. "There's no consistency."
Preliminary building assessed values at the nearly 23-acre site are between $12 million and $16 million. The Dean Lakes development, where the building would be, is at U.S. Highway 169 and Canterbury Road. The 217,000-square-foot building would be completed by 2014.
Last month, Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke and Gov. Mark Dayton traveled to California for a secret meeting with Shutterfly President and CEO Jeffrey Housenbold and Ray Montalvo, senior director of workplace services, DiMaggio said.
Lehman said the city council didn't know of the secret meeting. City leaders now must decide whether to pay for the trip that Tabke took, Lehman said.
"The process is extremely fast for these abatement projects and there's very little information coming to us ahead of time," he said.
More information about the plan can be found here.