The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

March 27, 2013

Conneaut is prepping job-creation tax break

Star Beacon

CONNEAUT — A program that would provide tax breaks to local businesses that add jobs made its City Council debut Monday night.

An ordinance that would launch Conneaut’s first-ever job creation tax credit program was moved to a second reading at the regular meeting. The plan would mirror other programs in the area, said City Manager Tim Eggleston.

“The purpose of the ordinance is to provide an incentive to businesses in the city of Conneaut to create new jobs,” he said.

The proposed program ties tax breaks to the number of jobs created, and businesses with smaller payrolls can benefit, too, officials said. There are requirements, including pay standards and a 32-hour work week for the new employee.

Conneaut’s finance department would check compliance, Eggleston said. Companies that fail to meet standards would see their credit shrink by increments. Businesses that fail to meet 75 percent of the conditions risk being ejected from the program by council, Eggleston said.

Council’s economic development committee, chaired by Ward 1 Councilman Doug Hedrick, has worked with administrators on the program for the past several weeks.

Also given an extra reading was an ordinance that would launch Conneaut’s latest Comprehensive Housing Improvement Program, a $400,000 initiative that would make repairs to eligible, owner-occupied houses. Dozens of houses in the city have been improved by CHIP projects over the past several years.

Also at the meeting, wastewater plant superintendent Craig Pierce said he is planning a program that would allow people to swap their old, mercury-based thermometers for digital versions. The plant would also accept mercury in other forms for proper disposal, he said.

The exchange will occur during a plant open house sometime this summer, Pierce said. The initiative is aimed at minimizing the amount of mercury that enters Lake Erie, he said.

“We don’t want it in our water system,” Pierce said.

Bob Mannion, Conneaut’s Public Works director, said his road crews are waiting for decent weather to spread $10,000 worth of stone on sections of Dorman and Keefus roads and Daniels Avenue that have been battered by the prolonged winter weather. The money will buy about 48 loads of stone, and nine loads have already been applied, he said.