Harvey County Commissioners discussed a tax abatement for Martin Machine and Welding in Halstead at their meeting Monday.

Earlier this month, the city of Halstead passed a resolution declaring their intent to grant a five-year tax abatement to the company, which offers machining, welding, cutting, fabrication, sandblasting and powder coating services.

The property receiving the tax abatement is at 201 Industrial Road, the former Patrick Industries building. The property consists of a 36,000 square foot building on 9.8 acres. The company reports the building has a truck and rail dock and will allow them to better service their existing customers and expand with new products.

The project involves an initial investment of $525,000 and the assembly of large industrial machines. It also will include an increase in the company's employment of about five to seven people within the next year or two.

The tax abatement is a five-year abatement, with an exemption of 100 percent the first three years, and an exemption of 50 percent the next two years. The exemption will be subject to an annual review by the governing body of the city of Halstead and could be reduced or terminated based on economic development performance. The abatement applies to the city of Halstead, Harvey County and Halstead USD 440 school district.

Commissioner Randy Hague said he would have preferred the abatement follow a tiered schedule with a more regular pattern of reduction over time, rather than three years of 100 percent.

"I'd rather see them do it maybe a 100 percent abatement and tier it down to zero after five years or even 10 years," he said. "... They still expect the police and fire protection and all of that, but they don't have to pay for that."

Commissioner Ron Krehbiel said sometimes cities can't avoid offering an abatement to a company, and Commissioner Chip Westfall was pleased the company went with a five-year abatement, rather than a longer abatement period.

Other business

Commissioners also heard a report from representatives of the Healthy Harvey Coalition.

The group originally promoted work site wellness but would now like to expand to an overall community focus.

The organization received a $25,000 grant from the Kansas Health Foundation and was able to hire a coalition coordinator. They intend to use the next year to plan their outreach efforts, such as encouraging more physical activity and better nutrition. Sample projects could include changing the items offered in a company's vending machine or serving healthy snacks at meetings and events.

Commissioner Randy Hague volunteered to serve as the commission representative on the coalition's leadership team.

County Administrator John Waltner said it's important to have commission support for wellness initiatives.

"If leadership at the top level is not visible and committed to it, they may have some difficulty succeeding," he said.