Just when the deal between The Door Stop and the Town of Payson seemed all but dead, the two sides are once again on the verge of an agreement that would bring the cabinet door manufacturer to Payson after all.
The Town Council met in executive session following the special budget meeting Thursday evening to put the finishing touches on a new agreement that allows the Chandler-based cabinet door manufacturing company to purchase the land outright instead of a previously proposed 30-year lease-purchase agreement loaded with economic incentives. The company is expected to create up to 75 jobs in the Rim country with wages in the high $20s.
"If (Door Stop owner) Jim Hill agrees to the terms, his attorney will redraft the agreement in consultation with (Town Attorney) Sam (Streichman)," Town Manager Rich Underkofler said. If that happens, the council could possibly vote on the agreement at its next regular meeting, June 14.
The apparent breakthrough came last week when Hill ended a stalemate in negotiations by presenting a new proposal that eliminated a lot of the legalese from the contract that lawyers for the two sides had been haggling over for weeks.
"The lease-purchase part was responsible for probably 20 pages of non-understandable stuff," Hill said, "and the incentives added another 20 pages or so.
"It's not worth the trouble. We weren't going to come to an understanding, so I said, 'To hell with it. Let's take it out.'"
The new offer is for a straight land purchase with no incentives.
"The town agreed to knock $30,000 off the appraisal price of $397,000 in exchange for an extra $45,000 up front," Hill said.
According to the terms of the contract, Hill would pay $225,000 cash by close of escrow. A promissory note for $142,485 would cover the balance of the purchase price.
Hill agreed to pay nearly full price for the 5-acre site in the Sky Park subdivision south of Payson Municipal Airport despite the fact that he believes it was appraised too high. "The appraisal," he said, "was actually comical.
"The land we were looking at in Pine was less than a third of the Payson site. Land here in Chandler is less than half," he said. "I guess land is worth what you say it's worth."
The Pine site, which was under serious consideration for awhile, is no longer an option, Hill said.
Hill says one reason he's in a hurry is because business is booming. "We've just expanded to two shifts, and we have to go to three pretty soon," he said.
But the cabinet door business, he noted, is also very competitive. "We can't allow our fixed costs to go higher than the competition's," he said.
"If they do, they'll recognize that if they lower their prices, we won't be able to match," he said.
Such business factors are why he added a firm deadline to his latest offer. "I am going to be in escrow on June 15, or I'm going to be talking to the architects about expanding my building in Chandler.
But this time, he hopes the two sides can get the deal done.
"My lawyer thinks there won't be any more problems that the language is pretty much what everybody agreed on verbally," he said. "It seems to look pretty good right now."
Vice Mayor Dick Wolfe agrees. "I haven't had much time to study their latest proposal, but so far I like what I see," Wolfe said.
Underkofler emphasized that Payson citizens will have plenty of time to study the deal and provide input. "By waiting until next week's regular council meeting to vote on this, we'll be giving the public ample opportunity to review the documents," he said.
In a letter to the Roundup dated June 7, Hill wrote, "Ten months after The Door Stop first approached the (Rim Country Regional) Chamber of Commerce about moving our manufacturing operation to Payson, an end to this marathon just may be within our grasp."