Commissioners form TIF panel

LISBON – Columbiana County commissioners expect a committee formed to grant tax breaks to encourage economic development projects in Salem will also be used for other projects in the county.

Commissioners this week named one of their own, Commissioner Tim Weigle, to serve on a committee charged with reviewing and approving any business tax breaks awarded under the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program.

Ohio’s TIF program provides governments with a method to pay for utilities, roads and other infrastructure improvements resulting from new development. Under TIF, a partial break is granted on business taxes generated by a proposed new development, but the untaxed money would be deposited in a special fund used to pay for infrastructure improvements undertaken to benefit the project.

Any such tax breaks must be approved by the TIF review committee, which consists of representatives from: the city, village or township where the TIF is being granted; the local school board; the county auditor; and three persons appointed by commissioners.

In addition to Weigle, commissioners previously appointed Salem accountants Dan Moore and Joseph Cappuzzello as their representatives.

Although the committee has been formed in response to Salem creating two TIF zones within its city, Commissioner Chairman Mike Halleck anticipates they may have some use for TIF too.

“There are some economic development projects out there we intend to pursue this year using TIF, and this review board has to be in place,” he said.

Weigle said one place where they may be able to use TIF is for further improvements at the county Port Authority’s riverfront industrial park in Wellsville, where several major tenants involved in the shale gas boom have major projects underway.

In other action this week, commissioners approved payment of bills for the week that included $24,965 for a Chevrolet Tahoe and $16,656 for a Chevrolet passenger van for the sheriff’s office. The vehicles are both used and were purchased from Brittain Motors in East Palestine.

Sheriff Ray Stone said the Tahoe is replacing an Envoy, which has been having electrical problems, while the old passenger van that is being replaced with the newer model will be kept as a back-up for prisoner transports and other uses.

The Tahoe is all-wheel drive and will be added to the other AWD vehicles in the sheriff’s fleet. “We try to keep three to four AWD vehicles on hand in case of bad weather,” he said.

The money for the purchases comes from sheriff’s fees charged for serving court papers.