McCORDSVILLE — A metal manufacturing business considering moving to town is seeking approval to pay no taxes on its facility and some of its equipment for 10 years.

The company says its unusual request will be worth it in the long run for McCordsville, but leaders are quick to point out how rare such a request is. They also have concerns over a large tax break at a time when funds are lacking to sustain the area’s fire and emergency medical services.

Philadelphia-based Southwark Metal Manufacturing Co. wants to move its Indianapolis division to what would be a new facility of 300,000 to 350,000 square feet on the east side of Mt. Comfort Road south of County Road 600N. The light manufacturer specializes in sheet metal pipe, duct work and fittings for residential heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems.

The company is asking for a full tax abatement on real estate improvements and new personal property for 10 years.

Tax abatements in Hancock County and its municipalities are usually done on a declining schedule — a 100% break the first year, 90% the second, and on down until taxes are fully phased in by the time the decade is over.

Southwark Metal Manufacturing would pay McCordsville taxes on equipment it would move from its Indianapolis location. That equipment is expected to generate about $90,000 a year in local taxes, according to information from the company.

The company did not return a request for comment. In the information it gave the town, it said “the project would convert a site which is currently generating very little property tax revenue to a site that would generate significant property tax revenue in the near-term and the long-term.”

The information adds that over 25 years, property taxes from the business are estimated to exceed $7.5 million.

Tonya Galbraith, McCordsville town manager, said at the town’s recent redevelopment commission meeting that she has concerns over the request for the 100%, 10-year tax abatement.

“I just have a real hard time with that,” she said.

Larry Longman, a member of the redevelopment commission and town council, agreed.

“We’re looking for partners who want to cohabitate with us, and that seems more like someone who’s leeching off us,” he said.

The area needs all the tax revenue it can get, they said, especially after the creation of the Vernon Township Fire Protection Territory, whose approval is still pending with the state.

If approved, Southwark’s new facility in McCordsville would be just south of the Woodhaven neighborhood. Greg Brewer, a resident of that neighborhood who serves on the town council, told the Daily Reporter that the two major concerns he’s heard from his neighbors and constituents are increased truck traffic and the potential reduction to their property values.

Brewer opposes the project. He said he doesn’t think light manufacturing fits the needs of the town and thinks there are better places in the area the company can go.

“We have the luxury to be very picky and finicky when it comes to manufacturing or commercial property moving into McCordsville,” he said. “I don’t think we need to jump at the first thing that wants to jump into our town district.”

Even if he were for the project itself, he wouldn’t be for the tax abatement request, he continued.

“It’s unacceptable to me,” Brewer said. “In fact, it’s a nonstarter. I don’t know why we’re even having the discussion.”

Southwark would also want reimbursement of up to $500,000 to address a wastewater issue at the site and a waiver of permitting, tap and other local fees controlled by the town.

Randy Sorrell, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said at the redevelopment commission meeting that Southwark’s Indianapolis division is looking to grow and can’t in its current location.

In information given to the town, the company states its Indianapolis facility, 10401 E. 59th St. in Lawrence, is less than 300 feet from a residential neighborhood and claims it hasn’t drawn any complaints. The facility operates on two shifts, produces no offensive noise or odor and truck traffic is predominantly 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the information.

Southwark estimates investing $15 million in new building construction and $1.5 million in new equipment. Its Indianapolis facility has more than 225 full-time employees and about $9 million in annual payroll.

McCordsville officials also expressed concerns over the company’s request for two curb cuts 900 feet apart on Mt. Comfort Road.

The town council is slated to consider Southwark Metal Manufacturing’s request at its next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. today (Tuesday, Aug. 11). Representatives from the company plan to attend.

In-person attendance is limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual attendance will be available via the free videoconferencing software Zoom. The meeting ID is 813 7192 7103 and its pass code is 271498. Virtual attendees will be able to make comments during the meeting.
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