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Lee County Confident in State Support

Lee County Board of Supervisors - 500_4.jpg

The head of the Lee County Board of Supervisors says he is confident the state will remain on board with a proposed fertilizer plant near Wever.

  Chairman Rick Larkin was one of three supervisors who attended a hearing in Des Moines on Iowa Fertilizer Company and its parent company, Orascom Construction Industries.

Larkin says they attended to get a better idea of where the legislature stood on the actual project.

He says they were reassured by multiple lawmakers that everything was O.K.

“They are not after Lee County,” says Larkin.  “They are not going to do away with the project down here.  As far as they were concerned, it was a done deal.”

Larkin, a former state representative, says lawmakers are more concerned about the oversight of the state’s financial incentive program.

Some members of the legislature have expressed serious concerns about Iowa offering some $200-million in tax incentives to bring the plant to Lee County.

During the hearing, Iowa Economic Development Authority Director Debi Durham told lawmakers her team knew a subsidiary of Orascom was being sued by the federal government.

She says no one told her about the lawsuit, though, which alleges the company defrauded U.S. taxpayers out of millions of dollars.

“I’m not proud of it,” says Durham, “but that’s what happened.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.