Berne bank gets tax breaks

    The first step towards a renovation of the First Bank of Berne building was taken Monday as city council members approved a motion granting a tax abatement for redevelopment of the downtown property.
    Vice president and Chief Financial Officer Jason Hilty and Joe Caffee, a senior vice-president for the bank, met with council to discuss the company's plans for a new building. The bank, which has been at its current location since 1905, was last renovated in 1991, according to Hilty.
    "Since 1991, every storage room, closet and nook were converted to office space," he said. "Lack of available space has hindered our ability to hire needed additional staff."
The estimated $5 million project will give the bank room the room needed to grow and will generate between $60,000 and $90,000 in annual real estate taxes once the phase-in for the abatement expires, according to Hilty.
    Council members praised the bank for its commitment to the city and for the steps being taken to keep the bank headquarters in Berne. The motion was approved, 4-0, with member Gregg Sprunger abstaining. Sprunger is an employee of the bank.