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Tax break could lure Fortune 100 company to North Huntingdon

| Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

North Huntingdon commissioners are considering a request to grant a tax break to entice a Fortune 100 company to construct an office building that would bring at least 300 new jobs to the township.

Commissioners authorized the township solicitor to advertise for a public hearing regarding a discussion on a possible local economic revitalization tax act, or LERTA, for the property. Developers are asking for a five-year tax break.

Donald Tarosky of Lincoln Hills Commercial property is seeking a LERTA for a 15-acre parcel in the eastern part of the township. Tarosky successfully secured a LERTA for property at Norwin Town Square last year.

The 15-acre Lincoln Hills Commercial parcel is located near the old driving range at Lincoln Hills Country Club, Tarosky said. It is just west of the turnpike ramps.

The parcel then would be sold to Clayco, a engineering and construction firm based in Chicago and St. Louis. Clayco would lease the building to a Fortune 100 company.

Developers declined to name the Fortune 100 company. They cited a confidentiality agreement.

“We think this is exciting,” Tarosky said. “The bottom line is we are in competition with at least two other sites. We believe both of them to be in Allegheny County.”

The building would be about 70,000 square feet. It would employ “a minimum of 300 to 400 people in this township,” Tarosky said.

Developers said they have met with Norwin School District officials to hash out details of a five-year tax break. As part of the plan, Tarosky said, the break would be 100 percent for the first three years and 70 percent in the last two years.

Once the five-year period ends, Tarosky said, the tax contribution would be “substantial.”

Company officials could make a decision on a location within the next 60 days.

Outgoing commissioners President Lee Moffat expressed his support for the tax break.

“I don't think you're going to get too many chances to get a Fortune 100 company, or a Fortune 500 company, for that matter,” he said. “I'd like to see it keep moving forward.”

Other commissioners, however, said they are not sure the tax break is essential for that property despite a recent LERTA for another one.

A tax break granted last year for Norwin Town Square was crucial to revitalization in that part of the township, commissioners said.

That LERTA was 100 percent for five years.

“We did it at Norwin Town Square because we needed to do something,” Commissioner Richard Gray said. “Down by the turnpike, I'm not so sure everybody feels that way. I'm not 100 percent sure of this yet.”

Commissioner Zachary Haigis agreed.

“Norwin Town Square obviously needed our help,” he said. “I don't necessarily know this project needs our help. I don't know if I'm comfortable with the LERTA on this property.”

The earliest township commissioners could approve a tax break on the property would be in January.

Fortune 100 companies based in Pennsylvania are 32nd-ranked AmerisourceBergen in Chesterbrook and 46th-ranked Comcast in Philadelphia, according to Fortune.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the country's top ranked Fortune company, has a location in North Huntingdon.

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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