Steuben council grants tax abatement for DAS expansion

April 23rd, 2019

By Mike Marturello | KPC Media - The Herald Republican

Two local companies have shown that in order to keep up with a competitive labor market, they have to pay much more money than before.

The information came out Tuesday as the Steuben County Council approved a tax abatement for another addition to DAS Services, Crooked Lake, and found DAS and Miller Poultry, Orland, in compliance with existing tax abatements.

“It’s difficult to find people right now. Skilled people, you have to pay a lot of money,” said Barb Short of DAS.

DAS Services received a five-year tax abatement for an addition the company plans to have up and running later this year.

The County Council granted the abatement for the growing company that’s located in Commerce Way near Crooked Lake.

The company plans to add two employees and 4,500 square feet of space in a $268,000 project. The average wage at the company is $23 an hour.

The tax abatement for five years gives the company a 100% abatement for each year. The total benefit for the life of the abatement is $14,000, said Isaac Lee, executive director of the Steuben County Economic Development Corp.

In addition to adding to its facility, DAS is also adding a mobile division so it can work on industrial equipment it repairs on site.

Miller received compliance approval for its tax abatements even though the company fell short of employment targets.

Even though the company did hire the 10 people it had expected with one of the abatements, that number dwindled due to attrition. However, the company has increased wages in the hope of keeping employees, said Miller’s Karen Brenneman.

“It’s good, but not as good as I wanted,” she said.

She said the company increased wages by $6.4 million. The starting wage for a laborer at Miller is $14 an hour, which is $1.88 greater than before.

“We more than exceeded the dollars,” Brenneman said. “We’re paying a pretty competitive wage.”

“Our wages have gone up dramatically as well,” Short said.

Brenneman and Short both said the local labor market has been tapped out.

“It’s a common problem with all of the employers,” Brenneman said.

Miller has added some automation to cut down on the need for laborers, she said, but that, in turn, requires more skilled maintenance people to keep the machines running.

“I applaud you guys for your efforts and being successful,” Councilman Dan Caruso said.