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Board is considering tax break for former Techneglas site

Last updated: February 18. 2014 11:34PM - 1746 Views
By Joe Healey jhealey@civitasmedia.com



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YATESVILLE – Not so fast.


The owners of former Techneglas plant in Jenkins Township came to Pittston Area School Board meeting Tuesday night requesting the board approve a public hearing, the next step in the process seeking a state-supported, 10-year tax break.


But the board and its business consultant said they’d like some additional information.


Developers need the district’s help to be accepted into the state’s Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance Act tax credit program which encourages businesses to invest in projects to improve distressed areas.


Interstate Distribution Center, represented at the meeting by Lawyer Frank Hoegen and several of the developers, hope to invest $50 million to raze the existing facility which includes massive concrete silos that no longer serve a purpose and construct an industrial warehouse distribution center.


“The current building is outdated and obsolete. The only way to turn that into a productive site is to tear it down and build a state-of-the-art facility,” Hoegen said.


Melone said someone else may want that property in the private sector.


“We’ve done this a thousand times, and no disrespect intended and everything that Attorney Hoegen says is correct in theory,” Melone said. “In reality, we get rolled.”


According to a 20-year financial impact proposal distributed to the board, the first 10-years the district would receive $90,640 each year, the current property tax without improvements. But that number could jump to $1.2 million each year for the next 10 years after the improvements are back on the tax roll.


“In reality, it’s a partnership,” Hoegen said. “You’re betting on us that we’re going to turn some outdated, antiquated, economically obsolete site to a productive site where potential realization of $1.2 million in real estate taxes becomes a reality. And you’re giving us that opportunity. Because without that opportunity, I don’t think we can draw a tenant because the market is so competitive.”


All three taxing bodies, Jenkins Township, Pittston Area School Board and Luzerne County must sign on for the public hearing to be held. Jenkins Township OK’d the hearing.


Hoegen and the developers agreed to meet with district business consultant Al Melone and several board members to discuss the plan before a public hearing is approved.


The facility is now being used as a warehouse on with month-to-month leases.


Two unique amenities are the massive power grid, with an on-site power substation with two 69,000 volt power lines, and railroad service by Reading and Northern.


Techneglas, previously known as OI-NEG and Owens-Illinois, was built in 1968 to manufacture television face plates, the thick glass coverings on picture tube televisions. In its heyday in the mid to late 1990s, more than 2,500 people were employed there. It closed in 2004 and was transformed into a warehouse, distribution and manufacturing center.


In other business:


• The board renewed district’s foodservice contract with Nutrition Inc. for the 2014-2015 school year.


• The board hired Charles LoPresto as a teacher mentor.


• The board hired Jim Gilhooley as a regular part-time member of the cleaning staff.


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