Caterpillar said its monthly average of full-time jobs for 2013 on the site of its new plant on the Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County border was 214. The goal stipulated in the memorandum was 100, allowing Caterpillar to state that there was no jobs shortfall for 2013.
Caterpillar also stated in the compliance report that it had invested $107,407,527 as of Dec. 31, 2013, but it provided no details of that spending. Caterpillar was required to spend only $50 million, so it claims there was no investment shortfall for the year.
Oconee County and Athens-Clarke County, which split costs equally on the project designed to lure Caterpillar to the area, spent $18,069,830, according to documents it filed with the state on Jan. 30 of this year.
Detailed Records Released
The two counties were required to file the January report with the One Georgia Authority, the state agency that also spent money to entice Caterpillar to relocate its Japanese assembly plant in the area.
In its Jan. 30 report, Oconee County said that Caterpillar had created 364 full-time jobs and spent the $107.4 million on its facility on Atlanta Highway on Bogart’s eastern border. It did not provide any information on the source of those figures.
I filed an open records request with the Oconee County Industrial Development Authority on Feb. 6 asking for detailed information on the numbers in the report. The IDA, appointed by the Oconee County Board of Commissioners, is the county agency that has spent the money on the Caterpillar project.
The county has set up a separate open records procedure for IDA documents. That procedure is not spelled out on the county web site, and the open records form that is embedded in the county site is not the one citizens are supposed to use to obtain IDA documents.
Met With Development Director
Rusty Haygood, Oconee County economic development director, asked me to meet with him on Feb. 18 to discuss the documents he was going to release to me from the IDA in response to my open records request.
At that meeting in Haygood’s office in the courthouse in Watkinsville, Haygood told me that the state Department of Community Affairs, of which OneGeorgia Authority is a part, told him to use the $18,069,830 figure for the expenditures of the two counties.
Haygood said his own figure was $18,338,594 and the state had removed some of the expenditures of the two counties from the list. He said he didn’t know what was eliminated.
Haygood said he had relied on an email message from Teresa Curtis, project manager from Caterpillar, in coming up with the report of 364 full-time jobs and $107.4 million in spending. Haygood shared with me that email message of Jan. 15, 2014, from Curtis to him.
Haygood told me that Caterpillar was not required to file its official figures until March 31 and that I would need to file another open records to obtain those reports. I did that on March 2, mistakenly directing it to County Clerk Jane Greathouse, open records officer for the county, rather than Angela Hellwig, open records officer for the IDA.
County Clerk Jane Greathouse sent me the document on Wednesday with the Caterpillar reports on hiring and spending.
Contract service worker was the largest category used by Caterpillar in describing the full-time employees hired. That figure of 60 was followed by 54 “agency production” workers. It does not explain what that category means.
Caterpillar said it hired 44 “welder-1” employees, eight “welder-3” and one “welder-2.”
The report states that Caterpillar hired 31 production assemblers as new employees and nine production assemblers who were not new employees.
The report lists 24 employees as “agency/leased” employees.
The records released to me by Haygood show that the county spent $4.9 million to purchase the land for the Caterpillar plant, including legal fees and purchase option. Clarke County will have spent the same amount, according to the agreement between the two counties.
The budget for the project, given me by Haygood, lists costs of $1.5 million for water and sewer infrastructure, $6.7 million for roadway improvements, and $10 million for the land. The state contributed only $1 million of the costs, resulting in the $18,338,594 figure Haygood submitted to the state in January for the two local governments.
The county sold bonds in February of 2012 to borrow $10.4 million for the Caterpillar project expenses.
County Finance Director Wes Geddings told the BOC at its special meeting on Monday night that the county at present is only paying interest on the bonds but will have to start making payments on the principal relatively soon. He said the county will have to make plans for those payments in future budgeting.
In addition to the land and infrastructure costs, the budget lists $289,000 the two counties spent for preliminary site design, $14.9 million in taxes not received through abatement, and $140,000 in unspecified additional local government spending.
The detailed spending report released by Haygood shows Simpson Trucking and Grading of Gainesville and Williams and Associates of Oconee County as major recipients of funding for the project.
Simpson was paid $2,564,554.
The county had signed two no bid contracts for $870,000 with Williams and Associates back in 2012 for engineering work for the project.
The county reported last month that it had paid Williams and Associates $723,000 and had closed out the account.