The Huntington County Council approved several measures to assist local companies at its meeting Monday evening.

Council approved 6-0 a statement of benefits (SB-1) form for Gladieux Trading and Marketing Co., LP, giving the company a 10-year tax abatement on a $1.4 million project.

County Council member Jamie Miller, R-At-large, was absent.

The project will construct two new storage tanks for a total of 4.2 million gallons, Huntington County Economic Development Executive Director Mark Wickersham said at the meeting.

The investment will not create any additional jobs but will retain 78 and “increase capacity and production” for the company, Wickersham said.

Also at Monday’s meeting County Council voted 6-0 to appropriate $125,000 from its cumulative CEDIT fund to the Huntington County Commissioners’ Project 4 CEDIT fund for an expansion project at Huntington Aluminum.

Since the appropriation was approved, around $250,000 has been offered for the project, half from the City of Huntington’s CEDIT Advisory Committee and half from the Huntington County Commissioners.

The CEDIT funding is in lieu of a tax abatement, Wickersham said in an interview.

Wickersham has said the expansion is not guaranteed locally and that Huntington County is “competing with another state” that could see the entire company move.

If that were to happen, none of the CEDIT funds from the city or the county would go to Huntington Aluminum.

The Huntington Aluminum project, if completed in Huntington County, would be about a $3.2 million investment, would create up to 41 new jobs and would retain 43 employees, Wickersham told the Commissioners at their July 14 meeting.

Wickersham said he believes the company will stay locally, adding the company likes Huntington.

“I'm really pleased that the city and county have chosen to work together in a supportive way to help Huntington Aluminum continue to grow and prosper in the city of Huntington,” he said.

Commissioners President Larry Buzzard also spoke before County Council requesting an additional appropriation for the Commissioners’ CEDIT fund.

The commissioners have CEDIT dollars certified by the State Board of Accounts every three years, Wickersham has said, and that total fund is divided into three years and into different categories.

Each year, unspent funds go back to the County Council, Huntington County Commissioner Tom Wall has said.

Buzzard told the council that amount for the past three years or more totaled about $475,000. Currently, the Commissioners have about $73,000 remaining in CEDIT funding until 2015.

“(That $475,000 has) never been budgeted, never been appropriated, and that’s what we need to access,” he said, adding that amount would cover the $125,000 for Huntington Aluminum as well as allow for “some money in excess for future projects for the remainder of the year and then rolled over into the next year.” 

Several members of County Council expressed concern about transferring the entire amount to the Commissioners.

“It would only make sense that…if they need something later on we need to know what’s going on with it,” Councilman John Hacker, R-At-large, said.

Councilman Joel Harris, R-Dist. 3, said at issue was accountability.

“The whole point is more oversight,” he said. “If projects are being done there’s some kind of accountability for it, that way this money isn’t just getting blown for who knows what. If it’s a big project…the money’s there they just need to let us know what’s going on.”

Buzzard raised concerns about the ability to move quickly on projects.

“We’re virtually zeroed out right now and if something comes up and we have to move I don’t want to have to delay Mark or his efforts,” Buzzard said.

“The council is committed to making sure that doesn’t happen,” President Kendall Mickley, R-Dist. 2, said, adding Council could call a special session to appropriate funds.

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