City tries to con­vince lo­cal in­dus­try to stay with $1.1M tax dis­count

The Covington News - - Front page - DANIELLE EVER­SON deverson@cov­news.com

Cov­ing­ton coun­cil mem­bers voted unan­i­mously to of­fer an ex­ist­ing in­dus­try a 10-year tax abate­ment worth $1.1 mil­lion to keep its busi­ness in the county.

The un­named in­dus­try, which em­ploy­ees 900 peo­ple, wants to con­sol­i­date its op­er­a­tions cur­rently lo­cated in New­ton and Rock­dale coun­ties. The ex­pan­sion con­sol­i­da­tion would re­sult in a $18 to $20 mil­lion dol­lars in­vest­ment.

Cov­ing­ton As­sis­tant At­tor­ney Frank Turner Jr. told coun­cil at their meet­ing Mon­day night that the county has com­peted for the project with Rock­dale County. He said Rock­dale County has of­fered the in­dus­try a 10-year phase-in worth $4.15 mil­lion.

“Rock­dale County made an ex­tremely ag­gres­sive in­cen­tive pro­posal to them in my opin­ion,” Turner said. “For a $20 mil­lion in­vest­ment, a $4 mil­lion tax in­cen­tive is very ag­gres­sive,” he said. “We didn’t feel we could of­fer an in­cen­tive of that mag­ni­tude.”

Turner said the in­dus­try has 150 em­ploy­ees at its New­ton County fa­cil­ity and the Rock­dale County fa­cil­ity has 750 em­ploy­ees at its two fa­cil­i­ties. The av­er­age wage of each worker is about $18.46 per hour with an­nual sales of $1 bil­lion.

He ex­plained to coun­cil that he didn’t an­tic­i­pate any job loss with the con­sol­i­da­tion be­cause if the in­dus­try lo­cated to Rock­dale County the em­ploy­ees would just have to com­mute. Turner said half of the em­ploy­ees live in New­ton and Rock­dale coun­ties.

Ac­cord­ing to a project sum­mary from the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Of­fice of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, the com­pany is con­sid­er­ing four sites

- two in Rock­dale County and two in New­ton County. The sites in New­ton County are 47 acres of New­ton County In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Author­ity prop­erty that is built-to- suit and the other prop­erty is a 202,000 square foot build­ing at Lochridge Drive that would be ex­panded to 400,000 square feet.

Mayor Ron­nie John­ston said the New­ton County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers would also have to agree to the tax abate­ment.

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