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Steel-mill expansion to produce little for two school districts



Published: Sun, March 7, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Harold Gwin

By harold gwin

gwin@vindy.com

youngstown

Early estimates that the V&M Star Steel expansion would mean as much as $1 million or more in real- estate tax revenue for Girard schools appear to be overly optimistic, the district’s treasurer said.

After consulting with the Trumbull County auditor’s office, Treasurer Mark Bello said a more likely figure will be in the thousands of dollars — and well below $100,000. Should the company seek a tax abatement, the amount will be reduced by the percentage of abatement, he said.

Even then, any additional revenue resulting from the project is probably several years away, Bello said, noting that the project has an 18-month construction period, and it will then take some time for the property to be reassessed and the tax rolls changed.

That’s better than what the Youngstown City School District can expect out of what is hoped will be just the first phase of V&M’s expansion, pegged at $650 million.

Although the land where the project will be built is now in Youngstown, it remains in Trumbull County and part of the Girard City school system.

That translates into zero real-estate revenue for the Youngstown schools, and William Johnson, district treasurer, confirmed that the district is being told it won’t see any direct financial benefit from the project.

But Mayor Jay Williams of Youngstown said that picture could change if V&M opts to go through with a second phase of the project, a $350 million melt shop that would be built as part of the current plant in Mahoning County. The Youngstown schools would benefit from it by an increased tax base, he said.

Neither Girard nor Youngstown schools have a wage tax that would be imposed on construction workers involved in the V&M project, so no additional revenue will come to them from the building phase.

Bello said though the project is estimated at $650 million, most of that value will be in machinery and equipment, which have been taxed in the past as personal property. However, Ohio has been phasing out the personal property tax , and it ends next year. Only the building housing the machinery and equipment will go on the real estate tax rolls, and that won’t make a substantial increase in the district’s $147 million total property valuation, he said.

Because Ohio tax levies are based on producing a certain amount of revenue and not on specific millage, any increase in revenue coming from V&M would have the effect of reducing the taxes of everyone else in the school district.

“The average Joe Taxpayer will pay a smaller amount of tax,” Bello said.

Still, it will benefit the district in the long run to have an increase in its tax base, he said.


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