April 19, 2014

Elyria
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County gives tax break for airport hangars

ELYRIA — County commissioners approved a 10-year tax abatement Thursday that will support the construction of new hangars at the Lorain County Regional Airport.
The vote came after the Oberlin school board rejected a plan earlier this year that would have exempted the owners of the hangars from paying taxes for 30 years.
The plan approved Thursday means the Oberlin Schools will receive 25 percent of the taxes that will be collected once the hangars are up and running. The other 75 percent was abated by the deal.
County Administrator Jim Cordes said the approximately $1.1 million project, a joint venture between Johnston Aviation, which runs the airport for the county, and several business partners, will lead to the construction of two condominium-style hangars.
The tax-incremental financing plan, which did not need the school board’s approval, will generate about $150,000 for infrastructure work for the project, which the county hopes will jumpstart business at the airport and make it less reliant on the county’s general fund for its operating expenses.
Cordes said the Oberlin school district had planned to support the 30-year abatement plan, but when the district failed to pass a levy earlier this year, the board members changed their minds.
Stephanie Jones, the school board’s vice president, said the board did what was best for the district. The longer term simply was too long.
“We felt more comfortable with a 10-year instead of a 30-year,” she said.
County Commissioner Ted Kalo said it’s unclear exactly how much tax revenue will be generated once the land has private businesses built on it. It’s currently exempt from taxes because the county owns it.
“We don’t know what we’re going to totally end up with at the county airport, so we don’t know what the TIF (tax-incremental financing) dollars are going to be at the end,” he said.
In other county business, Sheriff Phil Stammitti and county Engineer Ken Carney have agreed to delay making a decision on who will pay for a deputy to operate a scales unit to weigh trucks on county roads.
Sheriff’s Capt. Richard Resendez said the issue will be re-examined next year.
“(Carney) doesn’t believe this unit is going to be as productive as we believe it will be,” he said.
The agreement to wait until next year to resolve the issue — Carney paid for an SUV and the scales, while Stammitti pays the deputy — drew fire from Dave Noll, a consultant for the county deputies union.
Noll said the law is clear that Carney is responsible for paying for the deputy operating the scales unit.
Carney did not return calls seeking comment.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.