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Council finalizes tax abatement for ATTC

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Annexation could shift control of money, board to city

By KEVIN KOELLING

Managing Editor

TELL CITY – Members of the county council unanimously adopted June 26 a confirming resolution finalizing their part in approving a tax abatement for ATTC Manufacturing.

As the News reported June 16, the company sought the abatement for new differential-case production equipment worth $5.5 million to produce parts for Honda Civic and Fit vehicles. Two new employees would be added, payroll would increase by $50,000 and production is expected to total 1,500 pieces daily or 30,000 per month, according to Jeff Jones, accounting manager for the automotive-parts manufacturer. Installation is expected to begin in August with completion next year, County Auditor Connie Berger reminded the council at their June meeting.

“This is also the time that we would conduct a public hearing if there’s anyone from the public here to make comments on this project,” she said.

The council voted unanimously to adopt the resolution and allow the 10-year abatement period.

In considering transfers of funds among highway-department budget line items, Councilman Jim Adams noted a 10-cent discrepancy in two documents. Berger said it was a typographical error on her part and the higher amount was correct. The transfer was for $22,827.35 from the operations manager’s salary to that of the superintendent and was necessary after the promotion of Steve Howell from the former into the latter role, which the News reported June 19. The council also approved a salary-ordinance amendment reflecting the change.

They also voted unanimously to support a recommendation from the State Board of Accounts to transfer $1.2 million among funds. Berger explained the moves would correct a problem.

“We had just missed doing that step when we had to assign all new account numbers back two years ago,” she said. Making the correction at the June meeting would help when the council prepares next year’s budget “because we work everything (based) on June 30 balances,” she added.

The council also voted to reappoint Dan Hayden to the Cannelton Economic Development Commission. As the News reported June 19, the council was unsure whether they could take that action because he had moved to Troy.

“I did contact Jim Tyler, the county-council attorney,” Berger said, and “there is no residency requirement for that board.”

Councilman Ron Crawford Sr. said he’d learned several things at a recent statewide meeting of county officials. Among them was that a formula is used to determine who controls county-option income-tax revenues.

“Whoever has 50 percent of the population controls the monies,” he said. “At the present time, the county has 52 and a half percent.” Officials in Tell City and Troy have adopted annexation ordinances and if successful, the county would also lose some property-tax revenue, he noted.

Councilman Stan Goffinet said the county actually has 52.32 percent of the total population “and we would lose the COIT board … I don’t know if anybody’s done the calculations on that, if we’re going to be very close. We’re right there on the danger line, is what they’re telling us.” That was true of eight or nine counties, he added.

Something else Crawford learned which “was almost funny, he said, was “the question always comes up about the binding and nonbinding (reviews of) budgets.”

He was referring to a 2008 change then-Council President Pete Franzman called “a big farce.” Legislation going into effect then assigned county councils the responsibility to review all county taxing units’ budgets except those of school corporations.

The News quoted in September 2012 a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette suggesting confusion remained four years later, but the General Assembly had directed the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to find a way to improve the process.

No one at the recent meeting could explain why county councils are required to conduct the reviews, Crawford said. “We’ve got to do it with no rhyme or reason as to why we’re doing it,” he added.