Council approves abatement for QSI

Article by Matt Getts of KPC Media

ALBION — Sometimes bigger is better.

The Noble County Council Monday approved a 10-year tax abatement for a company planning to expand at its current facility and add three employees.

QSI Automotive Inc., 3585 S. S.R. 9-57, Churubusco, submitted a plan to increase its factory by 16,000 square feet.

“It’s the biggest addition we’ve ever done,” company President Phil Munk told the council. “We keep on growing.”

The abatement will phase in the company’s tax burden for 10 years on the cost of the $1 million expansion.

According to Munk, the expansion won’t just be more square footage, but cubic footage as well, as the company literally raises the roof to allow for the installation of crane equipment for moving heavy pieces of machinery.

QSI Automation builds automated equipment for the manufacturing industry.

The company currently employs 43 people.

Also at Monday’s meeting:

• The Council voted to disallow the 2019 abatement for Merriam-based Orthopedic Precision Instruments, finding that it was not in compliance with terms of its original 10-year abatement, which was approved in 2011.

According to Councilman Mike Toles, who recently toured the facility, the company has been at six employees for the last several years, which is actually down from a one-time high of 15 employees.

“It’s not meeting the criteria or expectations as a whole,” Toles said of the abatement.

According to County Coordinator Jackie Knafel, the company would have saved approximately 40 percent on the tax burden of its original $1 million abatement in 2019.

If the company comes into compliance, it could receive abatements through the remaining three years of the abatement cycle.

• The Council approved Noble County Sheriff Doug Harp’s request to spend $38,000 for 150 new mattresses at the Noble County Jail.

The current mattresses at the facility are approximately 10 years old.

Now in bad shape, the mattresses can be torn and inmates have begun hiding contraband in them, Harp said.

He presented a low pricing option of $13,000, but said the higher-priced mattresses have been tested by jail staff and should be tear-resistant. Because they are of higher quality, the mattresses should last longer than the cheaper variety.

“In the long run it’s going to save us a lot of money,” Harp said.

The Council allowed Harp to pay for the mattresses using the money his department brings in by housing inmates from other jurisdictions. As of Monday, Noble County was housing 12 inmates from DeKalb County and 10 from Huntington County.

At $35 per day, the jail is bringing in approximately $23,000 per month into the fund.

• The council also recommended providing a two-percent cost of living increase to county employees next year as part of its pay matrix system, but that is a tentative plan only. It won’t be until the county makes its formal budget this summer that it will know if money is available for raises.