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Published: Thursday, 8/11/2011

TPS officials pledge support for Chrysler’s plans

BLADE STAFF

Toledo Public Schools leaders hailed the possible Chrysler expansion here and vowed to hold a full board meeting next week to approve a tax abatement request.

The plant expansion and requested tax exemptions were presented to board of education members and administration during a finance committee hearing Thursday morning. Chrysler and city of Toledo representatives briefed district officials on the deal, and requested approval for the first component of a government incentive program for the expansion.

“I want to congratulate Chrysler for deciding to make this investment in Toledo,” school board president Bob Vasquez said.

Chrysler’s plans to expand its Toledo plant are still tentative, dependant on state and local financial incentives. The Toledo school district has been asked for a 15-year, 50 percent tax abatement on the plant’s expansion, worth about $37,000 a year, district officials said. The Washington Local school district, where part of the plant lies, has received a similar request.

Toledo is competing against other communities for the expansion, officials said, and approval of the incentives will weigh heavily in Chrysler’s decision.

“This will be very beneficial to our community,” said Tom Crothers, deputy mayor for external relations, “and we want to support Chrysler.”

School board members at the committee hearing didn’t make guarantees on how the full board would act, but wholeheartedly endorsed the proposal. Both Mr. Vasquez and board member Brenda Hill said they would recommend the board approve the abatement, and lauded the potential increase in jobs for parents of the district’s students.

“I want to show Chrysler that we are not going to be holding up business,” Mr. Vasquez said.

The full board will hold a special meeting Tuesday to vote on the abatement proposal, a quick turnaround to show Chrysler the district is serious in its support. Board members noted the competition Toledo is facing.

“All the cities in the country are looking for jobs,” Ms. Hill said.

Washington Local’s school board will vote Wednesday evening on the abatement request, superintendent Patrick Hickey said.

While Chrysler’s plans aren’t set in stone, company officials thanked school officials for their support.

“Today was the first step in getting state, local, and school district approval of incentives,” said Christine Estereicher, Chrysler senior manager for state relations.



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