$6 million EP Graphics expansion gets abatement

    With two of its five members absent, Berne City Council conducted only a portion of its planned business Monday evening, while postponing other actions until the full body is present.
    Two planned public hearings went ahead as scheduled, including a session to accept comment on a proposal to establish an Economic Revitalization Area at EP Graphics as part of a 10-year tax abatement request.
    Tyler Kitt, chief executive officer at EP Graphics, was present at the April 9 council meeting to announce the company's planned $6 million expansion and renovation project that he said would add 10 jobs to the current 70-member workforce.
    Larry Macklin, executive director of the Adams County Economic Development Corp., spoke on behalf of the abatement request during Monday's public hearing, saying the new jobs proposed by EP Graphics "are a huge lift for us."
    "We're very proud of EP Graphics for their continued growth and are asking you tonight to finalize the Economic Revitalization Area for tax abatement purposes," Macklin said. No one spoke in opposition to the request and council voted 3-0 to approve the tax abatement.
    A separate public hearing was conducted surrounding the city's proposal to abandon portions of Hilty and Wabash streets. According to city attorney Jim Beitler, the vacation of unimproved portions of those streets was proposed as part of the sewer improvement project on the south side of Berne. Ownership of the property in question will revert back to two adjoining property owners, he said.
    There was no public opposition to the proposal and city officials had intended to adopt emergency legislation Monday to finalize the move. Instead, because not enough council members were present to initiate an emergency ordinance, council simply gave the legislation its first of three planned readings.
    The member shortage also prompted the council to postpone its planned adoption of a resolution formally establishing a Sister City relationship with the Swiss city of Trachselwald. Mayor Bill McKean said he preferred to wait until all council members were present to adopt the mostly ceremonial legislation.
    The council also heard from residents Kyle Roe and Jeremiah Sturwald about a pair of "eyesore" properties in the West Jefferson Street area. Roe said the lawn at one home is habitually in need of mowing, while a tarp covers the roof and a junk car sits in the back yard. "It looks pretty trashy," he said, asking city officials to take the necessary actions to force the property owner to clean up the site.