Harrison County commissioners agreed to give a tax break to the Aurora Casket Co., which entered into an agreement to purchase Clarksburg Casket Co. earlier this week.
Craig Schmidtgesling, corporate tax manager for Aurora, asked the commission to agree to a tax deduction for a 10-year period in which Aurora would pay 42 percent of the real property taxes assessed on the building, Commission President Roger Diaz said.
The commission did not agree to the proposal as suggested, but instead opted for a five-year agreement.
"We agreed to a 42 percent per year payment in lieu of taxes for a five-year abatement, which equals to about $15,000 a year," Diaz said.
Aurora would still be required to pay a full 100 percent in property taxes on all the manufacturing equipment housed in the building, Diaz said. The property taxes will be increasing due to equipment upgrades that Aurora is planning on making, Diaz said.
"To get the plant up to running profitably, we'll have to invest $2 million in new equipment to make it profitable," Schmidtgesling said. "Economically, the county will benefit from the higher property taxes."
The commission's decision is subject to the approval of the county assessor and the Harrison County Board of Education, Diaz said. The board of education receives 71 percent of all taxes generated in Harrison County for the operation of schools and the assessor is responsible for collecting the tax. Therefore, both agencies must sign off on the agreement, Diaz said.
While Aurora was hoping to receive a tax deduction for 10 years, the company remains hopeful the purchase deal can still be finalized, said spokesperson Dave Lane. The deal was supposed to be closed within the next couple of weeks.
"I just spoke with the owners and chief financial officer who were made aware of the commissioners' decision, and they are evaluating what happened at the meeting," Lane said. "But they wanted to express their continued optimism and they feel like hopefully something can still be worked out."
Staff writer Jennifer Biller can be reached at 626-1449 or firstname.lastname@example.org.