NEW CASTLE Council takes out $1.9M bond issue for city project

City officials agreed to extend tax exempt status on 34 acres to 2013.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City council borrowed $1.9 million for a downtown revitalization project and other improvements.
Most of the money will pay for work being done in conjunction with Cascade Development's Warner Bros. theme-mall. It will include street resurfacing, new sidewalks and utilities on East Washington and Mill streets.
A $5 million state grant also will be used for the project.
Some of the money borrowed by council Thursday also will be used to build a maintenance building at Cascade Park and replace roofs on the Mahoningtown Fire Station and the old train station at Cascade Park. Those projects will cost an estimated $200,000.
The city borrowed the money through a 15-year bond issue. Interest rates will vary from 3.5 percent to 5.1 percent, said Jim Haberman, senior vice president of NatCity Investments, the firm that handled the bond sale.
Haberman said all of the bonds were sold Thursday and the city should receive the money by June 10. It will take about 30 days for state officials to approve the sale, he said.
Tax breaks: In other business, city council agreed to extend to 2013 the tax exempt status of about 34 acres in the city. The land, which includes portions on Grant and Sampson streets, was designated as Keystone Opportunity Zone property in 1998 and was to remain tax exempt for 12 years.
KOZ is a state designation that exempts most local and state taxes on a piece of property to spur economic development and create jobs. Most of the properties in the program are former industrial sites that need cleanup work done before they can be used again.
State officials decided to let the city extend its KOZ tax exemption to 2013 because they recently created several KOZ zones in the county that will be exempt for 13 years. That land is in Neshannock, North Beaver and Taylor townships.
City officials said they agreed to the exemptions so the city can compete with the new zones and make the property more attractive to potential developers.

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