BULLHEAD CITY — A proposal to consider providing financial incentives to Dot Foods Inc., to expand its local facility by an additional 70,000 square feet was narrowly approved by a 4-3 city council vote on Tuesday.
The economic analysis will help city officials determine whether it would be a financially viable move to waive fees for city permits that would otherwise cost the company an estimated $25,000 and a construction sales tax waiver of about $100,000 to enlarge its local food distribution center. The study would help determine whether such an incentive would serve as an investment that would economically benefit the community long-term.
The 190,000-square-foot facility opened in March of 2018. An expansion such as the one Dot is considering would add up to 70 more local jobs during the next three years.
The local center employs 243 people, said Rocky Vecera, Arizona general manager of Dot Foods.
Everyone on the council had good things to say about Dot Foods. Council members who approved going forward with the analysis were Kathy Bruck, Mark Clark, Tami Ring and Annette Wegmann. Mayor Tom Brady and Council Members Steve D’Amico and Sheila Shutts opposed considering
“The permit fees are not that much,” Clark said in general, then directed at Dot representatives: “You’ve shown you’re good corporate citizens.”
Clark also said Dot’s local presence has helped pique the interest of other companies when city officials attend business recruitment events.
It’s why “we picked up a call center,” Clark said.
Brady told Jim Tracy of Dot Foods that “business is so good you have to expand your operation.”
He pointed out that Dot’s Bullhead City location serves customers in the Western United States and that adding the expansion in Ardmore, Oklahoma, wasn’t viable.
Brady took time to explain why he voted against the original $200,000 cash incentive the city provided to Dot Foods in May 2017.
It was partly to illustrate why he was voting no this time but also an opportunity to explain why he made that past decision which has made him look for more than two years like “the mayor who voted against bringing Dot Foods to Bullhead City,” he said.
The first time around, “you asked for too much,” Brady told Tracy. “I don’t appreciate what I perceive as another threat.”
At one point, Dot had planned to build the redistribution center in Mohave Valley instead of Bullhead City, but refocused on Bullhead City because the Mohave Valley site turned out to be unsuitable for the project.
Brady also explained that Dot Foods at that time said it would move the project to Henderson, Nevada, if the city didn’t provide the $200,000 cash incentive.
Brady then said the company ultimately would expand its local plant no matter what the city decided now because it just made good business sense.
Several residents expressed their thoughts during public comment.
David Lords said that without Dot, the community would have $11.5 million less spent here than it does now. The amount is the company’s annual local payroll.
“I strongly ask ‘no’ voters to reconsider,” he said.
“I understand the need for economic incentives,” said resident Pamela Smith. “But I’ve never heard of giving more money to expand.”
Dan Oehler said that the city should incentivize Dot’s expansion to avoid what happened when Amazon opted out of a plan to build its new headquarters in New York City.
A comment by a state legislator “stopped it,” Oehler said.
When Dot was preparing to construct a center in the area, the city had agreed to a $350,000 waiver on construction taxes and a waiver of building permit fees — already in effect for certain commercial building permits sought by builders.
The city council also put $50,000 toward a truck driving program at Mohave Community College and helped significantly reduce the cost of the land for Dot to purchase at the Bullhead Airpark, Brady noted.
D’Amico asked whether Dot wanted $100,000 cash to stay.
City Manager Toby Cotter replied to D’Amico by explaining that Tracy inquired about a cash incentive. It’s not part of the current incentive discussion, however, he stressed.
Mohave County and the state of Arizona also provided incentives, totaling $1 million, to Dot to construct the new plant in the area, according to previous reports.
Tracy and Vecera addressed council members with information about their operation.
Dot’s $30 million investment has increased by $16 million in equipment, trucks and other improvements. Most of the employees, 91%, work full time, they said.
The average annual pay for local Dot employees is $46,000. Truck drivers make about $80,000 a year. Both amounts exclude benefits.
Dot has donated $165,000 to local groups and organizations. Employees are involved in a variety of community projects and donate to local causes as well, they pointed out.
In other business, the council:
w Approved a contract with Quality Emulsions, LLC of Mesa, Arizona, for purchase of Polymerized Emulsion Oil to use for this year’s slurry seal projects. Cost is $632,000 for 1,000 tons of emulsifier to carry out more than 1 million square yards of slurry sealing within the city’s Street Maintenance program.
w Authorized a contract with McCormick Construction to build a parking lot at Rotary Park next to the Tri-Plex for $189,759. McCormick was the low bidder for the project.
w Ratified emergency procurement of a new cooling tower at the Justice Center after both towers became inoperable in July. Cost for the new tower was $74,300. The other tower will be repaired using money already budgeted.
w Approved that the Bullhead City Police Department apply to the 100 Club of Arizona for a safety enhancement stipend that would pay $14,033 for 15 ballistic helmets and protective carrying bags for members of the SWAT team.
w OK’d a resolution authorizing the police department to accept funding from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for two purposes: Cloud service fees and two portable Lidar units for traffic enforcement costing $8,064 as well as 10 portable breath test devices costing $3,000.