Pettibone asks for abatement

BARAGA – The Pettibone heavy equipment manufacturing plant is seeking a tax abatement from the Village of Baraga to support plant and site improvements at their existing Superior Avenue location.

According to Pettibone’s application, the company plans to invest $537,500 in the site in the next five years, and expects to create between 26 and 50 production jobs in the process.

“What I gave is a five-year outlook,” Pettibone Director of Manufacturing & Continuous Improvement Scott Raffaelli told the village council Tuesday. “We’re trying to double our output in that time.”

The council agreed to schedule a public hearing on whether to declare Pettibone’s property an industrial development district, the first step toward the tax abatements.

Once the site is declared an industrial development district, the council can agree to relieve Pettibone of half the village tax burden for the capital improvements, for up to 12 years. That could save Pettibone about $13,000 a year in taxes.

Village Manager Roy Kemppainen said the goal of the program is to provide incentive for job creation, which can bring other revenues into the village.

“It adds to everything if there’s employment like that,” Kemppainen said. “It helps with housing, more kids in the schools. It multiplies the community.”

Kemppainen said the council in the past had approved an abatement for Terex Handlers, which has since left the area, and that any business in the village industrial park undergoing capital improvements and increased hiring was eligible to apply.

Raffaelli said the company’s plans include renovations to its existing production facility to increase production, as well as the creation of a test facility for its machines on adjacent property.

In other business, the council:

Heard from community members seeking help with flooding problems at their Superior Avenue home they said were caused by a village alley with poor drainage. Council members said they would have public works look into the issue, but the property’s low elevation made fixing the problem difficult.

Heard a report from the village police chief focused on difficulties in reporting crimes to the state. He said state reporting requires special software the village doesn’t have, which would cost the village $3,500 to purchase, as well as $1,200 per year to maintain.

Heard a request from the Baraga Lakeside Inn that the village support their request to the state of Michigan to forgive them of interest accrued on late loan payments, for a state sponsored revolving loan that had been administered by the village.

Agreed to increase village marina rates from 70 percent of the standard state rate to 75 percent of that rate for the upcoming summer. Last year’s minimum rate, $528 for the season for a boat 20 feet or less, will increase by about $37.

Awarded graduating Baraga High School senior Jenna Heikkinen the Wisconsin Public Power, Inc., $1,000 scholarship.