Feb. 25--The Schuylkill Valley School Board voted to support a tax deal that would save EnerSys Inc.$1.2 million over seven years.
The board voted 8-1 for the proposal, with board member Bryan D. Feeney voting no.
The Bern Township battery maker is planning a $14 million project that would add 115 full-time jobs and include a 70,000-square-foot expansion to the company's headquarters along Route 183.
The company has asked Schuylkill Valley, Bern Township and the county to approve the proposal, saying the tax savings will play a key role as the company decides whether to expand in Berks or elsewhere.
The EnerSys board will decide where it wants to expand in March, said Steven J. Weik, the company's vice president of global operations engineering. The plan is to break ground in June.
The school board had some reservations about the deal, but ultimately decided to support the project, citing the opportunity to develop a partnership with the company and to bolster the tax rolls over time.
"We're not just facilitating a building," said board member G. Dane Miller. "We're facilitating a lot of people coming into the district as well."
EnerSys had originally pitched a 10-year tax deal to the school board, but changed it to seven years at the board's request.
Assuming the school tax rate remains the same, the full bill on the project would bring in an extra $256,000 in revenue after the agreement expires. That is even more than the company had projected during an earlier meeting with the district.
The district will continue to receive $241,000 in property taxes from the company's current assessment and will receive additional revenue as the new development is gradually brought on the tax rolls.
The board also received a memorandum of understanding with the company that it would not seek a reassessment for the project. That letter is not legally binding, but the district wanted something in writing from the company that it would not try to avoid the full tax bill after the seven-year deal expires.
Feeney, who voted against the proposal, said the project did not meet the criteria for the tax breaks.
"They want to expand and they want to avoid taxes," he said. "That's the bottom line."
Board member Paul L. Bendigo said keeping the company's global headquarters in Bern Township is an asset.
"These are international dollars that are coming into Berks County," he said.
A public hearing on the tax proposal is set for March 4 before the Bern Township supervisors meeting.
Contact Matthew Nojiri: 610-371-5062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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