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Child Craft buoyed by 10-year tax abatement

Harrison County Council members Monday night unanimously approved a 10-year property tax abatement for Child Craft, a major manufacturer of juvenile furniture formerly based in Salem.
Following a devastating flood from the east fork of the Blue River on May 27, Child Craft officials decided to pull up stakes and move south about 25 miles ‘ from Salem to New Salisbury. The flood was disastrous. It caused more than $10 million in damages and it followed another flood, in 1990, that also caused losses in the millions.
Keller and Child Craft announced the impending sale in September. Keller was forced out of the hardwood furniture manufacturing business by foreign competition after a century of business here. The Keller New Salisbury plant was the last of its holdings here. The deal closed Nov. 1, Child Craft’s CEO and owner Bill Suvak told the council.
Suvak and his son, Mark, the company vice president, had appeared before the council last month and successfully sought to have the New Salisbury plant site declared a revitalization area. That’s the first step that must be taken before a tax abatement can be granted.
And with the loss of hundreds of Keller jobs, and with jobs at two of Corydon’s automotive parts plants at risk, officials appeared more than willing to do whatever it took to bring Child Craft jobs here. In this case, the tax break is expected to help the company off to a good start and possible long-term success.
Councilman Kenneth Saulman’s motion to approve the tax abatement, seconded by Alvin Brown, passed 5-0, with Carl (Buck) Mathes, Ralph Sherman and Rhonda Rhoads also voting yea. In the absence of council chair Gary Davis, vice president Carl Duley chaired the meeting and so did not vote.
The tax abatement applies to Child Craft’s $2.2 million in real estate improvements and $610,000 in equipment. It does not reduce the tax bill in place before the improvements, and each year the company will absorb more of the tax liability on the improvements. After 10 years, taxes will be assessed on the full value.
In another matter, Duley made some parting remarks, after losing out last week in his bid for reelection to the council. He magnanimously congratulated the victors Rhonda Rhoads, Carl (Buck) Mathes and newcomer Chris Timberlake.
To Timberlake, Duley said with a smile, ‘You have six excellent council members up here to help you. You should hit the floor running.’
‘I’m looking forward to working with the council,’ Timberlake said.
Duley also wished Rhoads and Mathes well. ‘It’s been a pleasure serving with all of you,’ Duley said. ‘I’m sure you will have a very successful four years.’
The council also appropriated more than $1 million in riverboat revenue, as follows:
Revenue sharing, $617,471
Infrastructure revenue sharing with Harrison County’s nine eligible towns, $23,989
Crandall-Lanesville Road improvement project, $15,000
Harrison County Community Services, $75,000 (which represents the remainder of riverboat funds promised the agency for 2004)
Harrison County’s 12 townships, $110,000
Emergency management’s communications system repairs and equipment, $24,200
Lanesville Volunteer Fire Dept. fire truck, $60,000
New Middletown Volunteer Fire Dept. rescue truck, $125,000
Computer maintenance, $5,000.
The council appropriated $18,000 from county general for the costs of an appeal from Superior Court, and $2,500 for training for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
Sheriff Mike Deatrick said the training is needed because each officer in his department investigates his or her own cases, which has resulted in an increase in the number of solved cases.