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Norstam property declared ‘economic revitalization area’

The Harrison County Council Monday night held a public hearing regarding the declaration of the Norstam Veneers Inc. property near Mauckport as an economic revitalization area. The hearing was the last step before Norstam representatives and Economic Development Director Darrell Voelker can ask for a tax abatement.
Before the council unanimously approved the declaration, Councilman Jim Heitkemper expressed the need for a ‘clawback’ clause before an abatement is approved. The clause would require the county’s tax money to be paid back if Norstam would choose to go elsewhere or if another company purchased the site.
‘We should have had something like that on a lot of these (tax abatements),’ Heitkemper said.
Voelker said he didn’t know if the benefit of such a clause would ‘ever be felt.’
Tax abatements are obviously significant, but Voelker said he doesn’t know of any company that based its decision to stay or leave an area because of them.
Norstam president Mark Fitzgerald said he would not have a problem with the ‘clawback’ clause.
‘We’re not going anywhere,’ he said.
The council will hear the abatement request at its next meeting, Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at the courthouse in Corydon.
In other matters, the council heard a request of $382,000 from county parks director Claudia Howard, out of the riverboat gaming infrastructure fund, for road paving and repair at South Harrison Park near Elizabeth.
Howard plans to have the surface improvements complete before the baseball fields at the park host a state tournament in the spring. She also plans to request the funds to repave each of the county parks’ roads in order of those with the most need.
Howard also requested matching funds for a long-awaited project ‘ remodeled rest rooms at Hayswood Nature Reserve west of Corydon. The total cost of the project is $180,525, but Howard requested half of it from the Harrison County Community Foundation and half from the county.
The council approved with a 5-0-1 vote (Heitkemper abstained) $286,044.16 for the sheriff’s department for vehicle equipment.
Also, Chris Timberlake, council chair, informed the body of an executive session to be held at 6:30 p.m. prior to its March 23 meeting with county attorney John E. Colin regarding pending litigation.