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Allegheny County Council to review tax breaks for projects near airport

| Monday, Jan. 13, 2014, 12:11 a.m.

Allegheny County Council members are poised to consider nearly $6 million in tax breaks for two development projects in Findlay near Pittsburgh International Airport.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald asked council to approve the $5.8 million Westport Tax Increment Financing District. The plan would allow Imperial Land Corp. and Pittsburgh DC to develop land at the Westport Woods interchange off state Route 576.

The TIF financing would pay for public infrastructure that would increase the value of the land and help developers start their projects, according to documents Fitzgerald submitted to council.

Imperial Land plans to develop land for business and industrial use. Pittsburgh DC intends to build a distribution center with warehouse space, receiving docks and office space on 62 acres of land in Findlay Industrial Park.

Planning for the TIF started in 2012. The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, Findlay and the West Allegheny County School District have approved the proposal, which requires them to forgo some tax revenue from the site for 20 years, according to documents submitted to council.

Council will consider the proposal at its meeting on Tuesday on the Fourth Floor of the Allegheny County Courthouse.

The meeting will be the first led by new county council President John DeFazio, D-Shaler. Before the meeting, DeFazio announced leadership changes on the council's committees and the establishment of two committees.

Former council President Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale, will chair the Education Committee. Martoni, president of the Community College of Allegheny County's Boyce Campus, approached DeFazio about starting the education committee. The council authorized giving $23.9 million to the community college in 2014.

“I think it's one of the most important things that we could possibly be involved in,” Martoni said.

Ed Kress, R-Shaler, will chair the new Special Committee on Marketing. Kress was sworn in during the Jan. 2 meeting but has addressed the county's need to better market itself during past stints on council. He hopes to develop a strategic marketing plan, including potential sponsorship of county assets, to raise revenue.

Jan Rea, R-McCandless, will take over the Appointment Review Committee from DeFazio. DeFazio will chair the committees of the executive and government reform.

Councilman Bill Robinson, D-Hill District and the former chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, plans to introduce legislation on Tuesday to amend the 2014 capital budget to divert $25,000 to study building a juvenile detention center.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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