By Mary Spicer
A proposed expansion of LORD Corporation’s Cambridge Springs plant aimed at responding to the needs of the oil and gas industry took two steps forward Monday night.
Michael Monico, plant manager of the Cambridge Springs facility, and Mark Turner and Deana Burge of the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County, appeared before PENNCREST School Board during its monthly work session asking the district to consider participating in a LERTA (Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance) program that would exempt the value of improvements made to the property from local taxes for an as-yet-unspecified period.
According to Monico, the addition would expand the 172,000 square foot facility by an additional 18,000 square feet. The $15 million to $18 million project would increase the number of employees by approximately 11 from the current 140.
While corporate officers are committed to expanding LORD’s manufacturing capacity, Cambridge Springs is one of three facilities under consideration, Monico said. However, because that facility is the only one where the building itself would have to be expanded, they’re looking for local support for the project in the form of a LERTA tax incentive.
“LERTA would allow the corporate officers to make the decision to do it in Cambridge Springs,” Monico told the school board. “The officers of LORD are committed if the LERTA goes through.”
During its monthly meeting, also Monday night, Cambridge Borough Council voted to renew the borough’s LERTA zone. The establishment of a zone by a municipal governing body is the first step in the LERTA process.
“Tonight we passed an ordinance to renew our LERTA, which had been sunsetted, for another five years to help with LORD’s planned expansion,” Mayor Randy Gorske said. The entire borough is included in its LERTA zone.
According to Gorske, any additional steps that must be taken will be handled during council’s April 21 session. “We wanted to hear what the school board and the county do,” Gorske said. “We’re certainly in favor of having it happen.
The borough’s LERTA ordinance establishes a 10-year graduated plan, Gorske said.
Although exact details of this plan have not yet been worked out, during the first year under a typical LERTA, 100 percent of the assessed value of the improvements to the plant would be exempt from property taxes, while the company would continue paying taxes as usual on the pre-improvement value of the building. The percentage of the improvement exempt from property taxes would decrease by 10 percent per year until at the end of 10 years the full value of the improvements would be taxed.
The school board will continue its discussion during its monthly meeting Thursday night at Cambridge Springs Junior-Senior High School. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.
“LORD Corp. mentioned that they were interested in a LERTA,” Francis Weiderspahn Jr., chairman of the Crawford County Board of Commissioners, said Monday night. “They said they were going to approach PENNCREST first.”