Changes made to West Jeff

The original agreement between Target Corporation and the Village of West Jefferson has been amended to reflect new employment benchmarks, and village council approved the distribution center’s compensation plan for tax incentive non-compliance.

In March, the Tax Incentive Review Board addressed Target’s violation of its Ohio Enterprise Zone Agreement. The agreement required that the distribution center, located in West Jefferson, meet certain payroll and staff levels in order to qualify for a tax abatement from the village.

To prevent future non-compliance, the village and the Jefferson Local School District collaborated to amend the agreement.

Instead of requiring the store to employ 900 people, Target will only need to employ 600, which is still higher than the current number of employees on staff, according to West Jefferson Mayor Scott Hockenbery.

The payroll minimum will remain the same as it came close to the goal of $20 million or more.

To compensate for not meeting original expectations, Target will pay the village $25,000 for its revitalization fund and the same amount to the park development fund annually until 2014.

Also, Madison County and Jefferson Local Schools will endure no reduction in taxes received by either entity from now until 2014, despite a change in tax law.

 In other news, the council voted against an ordinance prohibiting health coverage for dependents and/or spouses of village employees who already subscribe to health insurance through their respective jobs.

The ordinance was proposed as an attempt to cut costs to villagers, but council member Randy Otis, who voted against the ordinance, feels the opportunity to utilize an outside plan and the village’s plan for a dependent and/or spouse should remain a perk of the job.

Other council members were not sure the ordinance would actually cut costs.

When the measure was put to a vote after a long debate, council vice president Ronald Garver and members Sheila Nelson, Doug Eakins and Jim King also voted down the initiative.

President Darlene Steele and council member Gene Sidner stood alone in endorsement of the measure.

Sidner, a member of the employee benefits committee, said the committee has mulled over the amendment for years and a decision either way was necessary.

The employee benefits committee has been instructed to continue to search for ways to save the taxpayers money.

Also, residents can expect a newsletter from the village in the next few weeks, according to Hockenbery, who aims to get some information out to constituents.

Hockenbery, who has line up sponsors for the first issue, has not determined if the newsletter will be published monthly or quarterly.

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