YOUR GOVERNMENT: Commissioners approve property tax exemption for Donald manufacturer

The Marion County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a major property tax break for GK Machines, a Donald agricultural equipment manufacturer which plans to expand its current facility. 

The board’s approval was contingent on the company adding at least 25 full-time industry jobs to its current team of 160 employees. 

GK is building a 140,000 square foot expansion to its facility, which will have a $25 million value, according to the board packet.

With the green light from the county, the company can now seek approval from other taxing districts in the area, like the city of Donald, to get an exemption for all property taxes.

The total tax break would be $290,000 per year for three years.

GK is located at 20495 NE Butteville Road in Donald.

After the exemption expires, GK Machines will pay approximately $313,331 in property taxes per year on the new construction, according to board agenda documents. 

The new jobs will be high skilled and high wage, said Connie Lindsay, the company’s communications and marketing director, at the meeting.

“I think it is super important that we promote liveable wage positions in our communities,” Commissioner Danielle Bethell said. “That way families can thrive in our community and we are not always looking to bring on entry (level) which are very important, but also so is stabilization.” 

Erik Andersson, president of the Strategic Economic Development Corporation, presented to the board on the nonprofit’s quarterly economic development work for the region. He  said companies like GK Machines are precisely those SEDCOR seeks to assist. 

“As you’ve all seen at GK, the amount of innovation and investment that they continue to develop there is so impressive,” Andersson said. “It helps our ag community, it helps all different types of industries and it is exactly the kind of business that we need to help.” 

Andersson gave an update on a number of SEDCOR programs, including the Latino Microenterprise Development Program. The Spanish-language program helps 30 to 50 entrepreneurs get started or expand, with information on creating a business plan, hiring people and navigating taxes, among other topics.

It’s on its fourth cohort with another slated for summer.

Bethell asked Andersson if there were any programs in the works to support other marginalized communities in the area.

“We have 96 languages spoken just in Salem alone. And I know that the Micronesian Islander population is growing,” Bethell said. “I would say in my experience as a commissioner there are probably five specific populations that are really overlooked when it comes to state programming and funding.” 

Andersson responded by touting SEDCOR’s partnership with the BE-BLAC Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing and growing the Black community, and said SEDCOR is also open to discussing other possible partnerships and programs for other communities. 

The board approved other agenda items, including proclamations designating May 2024 as both Older Americans Month and Mental Health Awareness Month, and designating the week of May 6-12 as National Nurses Week, and the week of May 5-11 as National Corrections Professionals Week, and Nurses Appreciation Week

They also approved an amendment to a consulting services contract between the county and Plante & Moran PLLC, a management consulting company. The amendment adds $305,000 making the new contract total $1,686,555. Finally, the board approved a zone change, a conditional use permit, and approved a new contract to provide consulting services for the building of new radio communications systems.

Contact reporter Joe Siess: [email protected] or 503-335-7790.

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Joe Siess is a reporter for Salem Reporter. Joe joined Salem Reporter in 2024 and primarily covers city and county government but loves surprises. Joe previously reported for the Redmond Spokesman, the Bulletin in Bend, Klamath Falls Herald and News and the Malheur Enterprise. He was born in Independence, MO, where the Oregon Trail officially starts, and grew up in the Kansas City area.