Commissioners hold brine hearings, discuss tax abatements
By Taylor Kaser –
Beginning at 9:30 a.m, the commissioners held two hearings regarding surface brine application immediately following their May 16 meeting.
Applications were submitted by Jack Fisburn to apply brine to roadways on his property, including the Cardinal Center and campground.
Commissioner Tom Harden explained that this permit is updated yearly and has been a granted in the past. He also stated that final approval of the permit can only be granted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
No one was present on the applicants side to speak. Comments and questions from the audience were then allowed.
Members of the public voiced concerns over the use of brine. Donna Carver cited examples from her research, of brine being under regulated and going unmonitored by the Department of Natural Resources. She also mentioned cases of groundwater contamination linked with the use of brine.
After listening to public comments, the commissioners approved both permits.
Approval was granted for Director of Operations Pat Davies to sign an Educational Partnership Agreement with Marion Technical College. A student, currently attending Bowling Green University, will work part time for the Development Office this summer.
Funds were transferred by the Court of Common Pleas, Zoning Office, and the County Engineer’s office to cover the force account contracts.
Chairman Tom Whiston was authorized to sign an agreement regarding ongoing services through the Adult Probation Authority.
An additional $32,810.54 was certified by the Budget Commission and is appropriated to the courthouse renovation project.
Status reports for Community Development Building Grants were approved, as well as the Community Housing Improvement Program fund.
Susan Peyton, Mayor of Cardington, was approved for appointment to the Regional Planning Commission, to represent Cardington.
A public hearing is being held on June 13 11 a.m for a re-zone application from Marengo Fabricated Steel, Ltd.The application asks that a parcel be re-zoned from residential to industrial. Separate hearings have been held and approved by the Regional Planning Commission and the Zoning Commission.
A new separate fund was set up for funds collected by the Treasurer’s tax lien sales. The amount in the official certificate was $11,590. Those funds were then appropriated to salaries and other expenses.
Job creation and development was discussed at the commissioners May 21 meeting. Whiston described a recent mode meeting he attended in Columbus.
While there, he said he and Development Director Pat Davies spoke with the Vice President of Abercrombie and Fitch, they discussed the “business atmosphere in the state.” Concerning their business, he said that Ohio’s biggest competition isn’t from Indiana or Michigan, but the Netherlands.
Whiston explained, “Why he [the V.P] thinks some of the steps we’ve taken in the past couple years, have made us much more competitive to receive projects.”
“We’re up against people that already have facilities that are built and ready to go,” said Whiston “So people sometimes wonder why we don’t get projects started here; that’s why.”
“I think the one that it has shown,” Olen Jackson said of joining Columbus 20/20, “is when we market a piece of property, it gives you a vision right there of what we’re competing against. It shows the uphill battle that we have.”
The V.P explained that when the company first went to New Albany in 2000, the income tax was 1%, in 2003 it was 2%. He said that change is almost a deal breaker for companies.
Whiston relayed comments made by the V.P, “Most states don’t have local income taxes, so when he has someone from New York come here and they give them a benefit package; they’re good until they’re told about the local income taxes, that’s enough from a business standpoint to almost change things. He says tax determines almost everything they do now, as far as site location and that type of thing.”
Bob Sutherland, in attendance, asked how the county determines what kind of abatements and incentives perspective companies can receive.
“The biggest thing to determine it is the site itself, once you do that, there’s not a lot of leeway for us to make offers.” answered Whiston, he said some business don’t ask for any concessions.
Sutherland then asked if 75–100% tax abatements, if the school agrees, were beneficial to the county?
“I think a lot of cases they look at it , if it’s neutral from the standpoint of tax over a long period of time, if its creating local jobs, that becomes the main determinate. One of the number one things people want is a place to work. So if we could get a business here that employs a couple hundred people, and we have a neutral tax consequence and yet we create jobs.” Whiston.
Sutherland also inquired what kinds of jobs, including salaries and benefits, the county hopes to create.
“I guess fundamentally, if you look at it from my standpoint, I don’t think the county creates jobs or determines that. Business is the one that creates jobs.” Whiston.
“These [the commissioners] don’t control that as much as your school boards, city councils and mayors.” said Treasurer Dan Green of who decides what tax abatements are granted, “The school board why they control so much of it is because they get the most of the tax.”
He used the example of the Cardington school board having the authority to grant a complete abatement to Yutaka, when they constructed an addition for project research and development, worth $24 million. “They have the most to lose so they have the biggest voice, they can waive that but they don’t. ” said Green.
The meeting concluded with discussing ways to make the public more aware of issues and attend public meetings.
Also approved at the meeting: Whiston was authorized to sign a status report for the Neighborhood Stabilization Grant for 2008. Certified money was appropriated to other expenses for the courthouse renovation project in the amount of $11,599.61. Transfer of funds were approved for Job and Family Services and the Law Library. An application for road crossing on Co. Rd. 24, Lincoln Twp., to bore was approved.