Missoula County and AT&T Agree on New Call Center Lease Agreement | Local news

AT&T, one of Missoula County’s largest employers, recently decided to renew the lease for a DirectTV call center that will last until 2026.

Missoula County commissioners last week approved another five-year lease with the multinational company, which operates a call center in Missoula. The location employs approximately 1,000 people and is in a district funding tax increases.

AT&T decided to renew the lease a second time during the summer.

The county owns the land on which the facility is located and acts as owner. The call center, a 72,000 square foot building, opened in 2006 as AT&T received nearly $ 18 million in incentives from local and state agencies. This included a $ 9.2 million loan from the Montana Board of Investments to Missoula County.

The new lease says AT&T will pay the county $ 63,267.09 per month in rent. However, all but about $ 7,000 will go to the state. In addition, there is $ 245,579 in TIF funds that will also go to the state as part of the repayment of loans taken out and reduce AT&T rent, said Emily Brock, director of economic and land development for Missoula County. , at the County Commissioners Council last week.

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The loans are expected to be repaid by 2031, county officials said. At this point, AT&T will own the property and the building.

“It brought good paying jobs back then to Missoula. Decent paying jobs. Definitely a nice place to work,” said Andrew Czorny, Missoula County CFO. “If they gave up the loan, they would have to pay off the loan first and we would end up with the property.”

There is a new stipulation in the agreement that will cap future TIF funds at $ 500,000 if AT&T decides to renew the lease for a third term. This is because there could be further sales of land in the TIF district, Brock said.

If more money flows into the TIF district, the cap will allow anything over the $ 500,000 in tax revenue to go to the county rather than the state.

Commissioners raised a slight issue with the deal, saying it was essentially a grant.

“There was a time when you didn’t see hiring signs everywhere and we needed good paying jobs in Missoula and apparently the people of the state and the people of Missoula were thinking, ‘How about creating this situation where we can use the tax increase to actually pay off a loan that would catalyze the coming and building of this business that would hire a whole bunch of people, ”said Commissioner Josh Slotnick.

“Years ago other people at our headquarters and in the state said there was a way to borrow money to build a large facility, but they don’t have to pay it back. with their revenues They can pay it back with what would have been property taxes… now that seems historically out of place because we’re in a whole different world right now.

AT&T did not immediately comment on the lease renewal or the number of workers the call center employs. In an online job listing for a call center representative on the Missoula AT&T site, the annual salary was $ 28,000.

Jordan Hansen covers news and local government for the Missoulian. Shout it out on Twitter @jordyhansen or email him at [email protected]

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