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Chrysler pressured to repay Ind. county over plant

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An Indiana congressman wants Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to deny more federal loans to Chrysler LLC until it settles a dispute over millions of dollars Tipton County spent toward a transmission plant that a Chrysler supplier stopped building last year.

Republican Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., whose district includes Tipton County, said he spoke Friday with Geithner, a day after sending a letter to the treasury chief about the situation surrounding the planned $530 million Getrag Transmission Manufacturing plant.
Tipton County officials on Tuesday turned down an offer from Chrysler to relinquish $5.5 million in bonds used to pay for infrastructure at the plant site along U.S. 31.
County officials told Chrysler they want the company to honor an agreement to cover all the county’s cost if the plant is not completed. In addition to the $5.5 million in bonds sold to Chrysler, Tipton County wants the company to provide $4.2 million for other bonds and $300,000 in county economic development funds used for infrastructure improvements.
Tipton County Commissioner Jane Harper said any federal loans to Chrysler should be tied to the money the county is owed.
“They are asking the American people to bail out Chrysler when they won’t honor a commitment to Tipton County,” she said. “This goes beyond a financial issue. It is a moral and ethical issue because they did not honor a commitment.”
A Chrysler spokesman has said the automaker is sympathetic to the economic stress caused by the project’s scuttling, but that the fault lies with Getrag for not completing the plant.
Getrag halted construction on the 900,000-square-foot plant in October after Chrysler pulled out of a financing agreement for the plant about 35 miles north of Indianapolis that was expected to create up to 1,400 jobs.
Burton said he was “extremely concerned” about Chrysler receiving more federal loans without honoring its obligations to Tipton County.
“I see the most favorable outcome to this dispute as a situation where Chrysler fulfills its obligations to Tipton County before billions more in taxpayer dollars are sent to Chrysler,” Burton said.
Information from: Kokomo Tribune, http://www.kokomotribune.com

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