The Athens City Council Monday approved a tax abatement for Steelcase that could help the company hire at least 50 new workers.
In exchange for the abatement, Steelcase is investing $2 million in the Athens location for new equipment for a sixth paint shop. Plant manager Doug Batdorff said it would be the company’s largest paint shop in North America.
The total abatement is worth $37,500 in sales taxes and $8,800 in property taxes. The abatement will not affect local education taxes, however, as that is prohibited by state law.
The property tax abatement will be good each year for 10 years.
Batdorff said Steelcase, which manufactures office furniture, had been a “proud member” of the Athens community for 32 years. In 2012, the company will celebrate its centennial. He thanked the council for its support in the expansion.
“We want to support community activities … in every way possible,” he said.
Tom Hill, president of the Limestone County Economic Development Association, said the company’s plans may also involve working with Calhoun Community College to strengthen Steelcase’s workforce development plans.
Steelcase’s word of a local investment comes only three weeks after Pennsylvania-based Carpenter Technology Corporation announced it would open a facility in Limestone County. State and local officials used a combination of tax and utilities incentives to close the deal on the $500 million project. CTC previously said it would hire at least 250 new employees when it opens in 30 months.
In other business, the council:
• Approved the purchase of new refuse carts at a cost of $45,000;
• Adopted a revised organizational chart for the Public Works Department and passed related resolutions to: adopt a job description for maintenance technician 3/crew leader; adopt a revised job description for technical coordinator; and approved an ordinance to add maintenance technician 3/crew leader classification to the city’s official classification list;
• Approved the purchase of a used 2005 Ford F-350 for the Public Works Department at a cost of up to $15,000;
• Approved a resolution requesting to have all dispatch ambulance services in the city provided by Athens-Limestone Hospital and its ambulance service. The Limestone County Commission passed a similar resolution last month;
• Approved a resolution to designate Nov. 25 as an additional employee holiday;
• Approved a resolution to appoint John M. Crutcher to the Industrial Development Board; and
• Rescheduled the Dec. 26 meeting to Dec. 19.