The Elkhart County Council decided to not make a decision yet on a request to give Winnebago Industries Inc. a tax break on expansion plans near Middlebury, Ind.

The Goshen News reported that the move — or rather, the lack of one — delays the abatement process by a few weeks while giving Middlebury leaders time to work out concerns with the company.

The council deadlocked on a 2–2 vote Monday (March 12) to table discussion of the issue until the council’s next meeting in April, and the tie forced the issue. Councilmen David Hess and David Foutz were in favor of tabling the vote. Councilmen Darryl Riegsecker and Tom Stump opposed the motion.

Council members John Letherman, Tina Wenger and Randall Yohn were not present at Monday’s special session, which was called to finalize the abatement process for Winnebago. The council in January preliminarily approved the proposal to give the Forest City, Iowa-based company a 10-year phase-in on real estate taxes and a seven-year tax phase-in on equipment.

Winnebago plans to invest about $12.3 million to develop a high-tech manufacturing campus around its location on 14th Street on Middlebury’s outskirts, Craig Busche, county attorney, said Monday.

The first stage calls for building two facilities that would become operational by October or November, followed potentially by another two buildings in the next 18 to 24 months, according to Niall Geoghegan, Winnebago operations manager.

“We’re feeling very positive and very bullish about where the market is going and our place in the market,” Geoghegan said.

Mary Cripe, Middlebury town manager, expressed frustration that the Elkhart County Economic Development Corp. moved ahead with the abatement process in January in spite of the town leadership’s objections to that financing model.

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