some text Janice Casteel

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Mars Chocolate North America is planning a $67 million expansion of its Cleveland plant to make pretzel M&Ms.

The Cleveland City Council is scheduled Monday to consider a plan to exempt from property taxes half of the new investment planned by Mars over the next seven years.

According to the resolution, the company plans to purchase and install equipment to manufacture pretzel M&Ms at its plant and add 38 jobs. Mars currently employs 493 workers at the M&M production facility.

Terms of the agreement, known as a payment in lieu of taxes, include an annual payment of 50 percent of the property taxes otherwise due until Dec. 31, 2018.

According to the company, that agreement still means an annual payment of $652,588 to Bradley County and $542,755 to the city of Cleveland over the seven-year period.

"As a community, we are always glad to offer our industries here a PILOT, just as we do those new corporations in our community,'' said City Manager Janice Casteel.

The Cleveland City Council will be asked Monday to approve the plan. The Council holds its voting session at 3 p.m. at the Municipal Building on Church Street.

It also meets at 1 p.m. for an informal work session.

Between those two sessions, the Council plans a tour of the Animal Control Division on Hill Street.

Local pet activists have been urging the city to take steps towards becoming a certified no-kill city. As a no-kill city, a limited number of diseased or vicious animals would still be euthanized.

Councilman Richard Banks urged the city to look deeper into the proposal two weeks ago. Animal Control Director Gene Smith said no-kill would require more space.

The Animal Control Division, a division of the Cleveland Police Department, is allowing owner surrendered pets 72 hours or more now before euthanasia, according to Smith. The extra time allows pet rescue groups more time to find foster or permanent homes for the animals, according to rescue groups.