Behavioral health agency takes steps to buy, expand building

The commission wants to buy its office space and expand the building.
HERMITAGE, Pa. -- The Mercer County Industrial Development Authority has agreed to lend its tax-free financing status to the Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission to help finance a $2.78 million project.
The authority voted Friday to help the nonprofit agency secure $2.65 million in tax-free financing from First National Bank of Pennsylvania for 15 years at an interest rate of 3.85 percent.
The commission is putting about $130,000 of its own money into the project.
What commission plans
The plan is for the commission to buy the 18,000-square-foot building and 2.76 acres of land at 8406 Sharon-Mercer Road, Mercer, where its offices are located, and put a 6,500-square-foot addition on the structure.
The agency is looking at expanding operations within the next few years, branching out from its current drug and alcohol and mental health responsibilities to include running Mercer County's managed care program for behavioral health, which will begin operations in 2004-05, said Dana Frankenburg, chief executive officer.
The project will enable the commission to retain the 72 jobs it now has and add 17 more over the next three years.
Frankenburg said it will also save money.
The commission will be able to consolidate all of its work force at the Sharon-Mercer Road site, allowing it to close a building it leases in downtown Sharon.
Annual savings
The commission will save about $100,000 a year in rent by owning its building, he said, noting that savings will amount to $1.5 million over the life of the loan.
The authority's approval is the first step in the tax-free financing process.
The plan must now undergo a public hearing, set for 10 a.m. May 9 in the county courthouse; be approved by the county commissioners; then be approved by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.

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