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Tax abatement extension OK’d for Norstam

The Harrison County Council unanimously agreed Monday night to extend a tax abatement for Norstam Veneers Inc. near Mauckport beyond the five-year limit set by the resolution in 2011.
The personal property tax abatement amounts to $181,390, meaning the property will be assessed at more than $1.6 million, assessor Lorena Stepro said, instead of about $1.8 million.
The company is still buying equipment and is still under the $3.6 million limit set in the resolution.
‘To me, it’s not that big … if they’re still buying equipment,’ Stepro said. ‘But I can’t make that call. I have to go with what the resolution says.’
Norstam Veneer Inc., which sees more than 20 different species of wood move through the plant starting as a log and ending as a paper-thin piece of veneer, suffered a devastating fire in 2007 and then, following a rebuild, was hit hard by the recession.
Councilwoman Holli Castetter said she wished company officials would have come to the council to explain why they had a delay in purchasing equipment.
‘It’d be nice to get updates, for just this occasion,’ Councilman Kyle Nix said. ‘We don’t want to start a precedent.’
Councilman Jim Heitkemper and Councilwoman Sherry Brown said they wanted to help Norstam.
‘They’re a small company; they employ people in the southern part of the county where it’s hard to get jobs,’ Brown said.
Norstam also has a real estate improvement tax abatement, not to exceed 2.36 million, for 10 years (also beginning in 2011).
In total, more than $3.4 million has been deducted for Norstam since 2011, thanks to the county’s abatement.
Following the vote (5-0, Councilmen Richard Gerdon and Sam Day were absent), Auditor Karen Engleman said she’d like for all of the companies receiving tax abatements to update the council before June each year.
The county council is the lone entity that can approve tax-abatement requests.
The council’s next meeting will be Monday, July 11, at 7 p.m. at the Government Center in south Corydon.