A tax deal to bring an expansion at Jefferson Industries Corporation is back on the table.
In December, the auto parts manufacturer, located on State Route 29 just outside of West Jefferson, sought tax abatements to build a $7.5 million expansion.
The new addition would bring as many as 22 jobs to the area. But, before the company would commit, it required competitive tax breaks from Jefferson Local Schools District, the Village of West Jefferson and the Madison County commissioners.
The manufacturer’s leaders told the school district it would take the expansion to its plant in Georgia if a competitive abatement wasn’t passed.
In December, the district approved a 15-year, 100 percent tax abatement in exchange for a one time check of $200,000 from JIC. If a second phase of the expansion were completed, the would school would receive a second check for $150,000.
The abatement would give JIC relief on taxes on the increased real property value, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency. There is still potential for higher tax revenue from other taxes collected, such as income tax from the new hires.
During the following days, county commissioners questioned the deal. Commissioner Paul Gross, whose term expired at the end of the year, thought the company was bluffing and felt that the school board could have pushed a little against what he considered “an ultimatum.”
Last week the deal seemed uncertain when West Jefferson Village Council removed the matter from the agenda, cancelling the vote.
According to mayor Ray Martin, JIC had taken the deal off the table, though did not tell him why or for how long.
The following day, JIC resubmitted applications for the abatements, though this time they filed the paperwork as a Community Reinvestment Area, according to Martin. They were previously filing as an Enterprise Zone.
Essentially, if JIC files as CRA, they do not need the seal of approval from the county commissioners whereas an Enterprise Zone does.
Commissioner Mark Forrest told The Press during a previous interview that, based on his interpretations, the commissioners were opting for a 75 percent abatement over the preferred 100 percent, citing the increased demand on township fire and emergency services.
On Thursday, Martin said JIC flipped the script again and was back on the Enterprise Zone route, bringing the commissioners back into the fold.
“We are keeping everything above the table,” Martin said. “This is a collaborative effort.”
A discussion between David Kell, director of the CIC, and the county commissioners was scheduled for Monday morning, but was cancelled.
The commissioners said they were in discussions with the company, which Forrest said had gone well so far.
“We’ve been in negotiations with JIC and we are putting a joint statement together for future release of the outcome of the negotiations,” said Commissioner David Dhume. “It should be out next week.”
According to Kell, the deal is still moving forward.
“Everything looks promising for the project,” he said.
Reach Erin Thompson at 740-852-1616 ext. 1615. Reach Maximilian Kwiatkowski at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617.