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IDA wary of proposed tax break for firm's expansion

A request for a property tax break for an expansion of Mulvey Construction Co. brought a skeptical response from the board of the Town of Lockport Industrial Development Agency Thursday.

Member Paul J. Haber said owner Timothy Mulvey's business is "very successful. Does he really need this to grow his business?"

"I don't think so," board member Robert A. Lipp replied.

But the board agreed to schedule a public hearing on the request. David R. Kinyon, town economic development coordinator, said the hearing date hasn't been chosen and the terms of the proposed tax break haven't been fully worked out.

"A public hearing is not an approval," board member Duncan N. Carlson said. "The question becomes, when does a business become self-sustaining?"

Kinyon said Mulvey plans a $700,000 addition to his current operation in the Ulrich Business Park on Davison Road.

"[Mulvey] came to this board for an abatement when he first built on Davison Road," Haber said, "and we didn't give it to him, and he built anyway."

Haber said he didn't think Mulvey is likely to move out of Lockport if he is denied a tax break.

Kinyon said Mulvey has been doing an increasing amount of business in Pennsylvania and has the option to relocate there.

Mulvey didn't attend the meeting and could not be reached afterward.

The IDA board was much more friendly to a presentation from Moley Magnetics, a Wilson company that asked for a tax break to move to the former Electruk Battery Co. building in the town's industrial park off Upper Mountain Road.

The Town Board voted Aug. 10 to sell the 14,000-square-foot building to Moley for $10,000. Moley has been looking for a place to go since two of its three buildings on Shadigee Road were ruined in a June 22 fire.

The Electruk building was the site of an expensive environmental cleanup that finished in 2009, after it was abandoned following a 1995 fire caused by a spill of sulfuric acid.

Ronald Slaby, Moley's sales and marketing director, said the company's workforce of eight full-timers and two part-timers might grow to 18 full-timers and four part-timers by 2015.

"We've grown the business by 10 times in three years," he said.

The company manufactures electrical control panels, assembles large magnets such as those used in scrap yards, and repairs electric motors.

Company president and founder John S. Moley said a move to Lockport would help his company compete for business from Erie County, while keeping the Niagara County business at home.

"There's $2 million to $4 million worth of [Niagara County electrical] business going to Erie County and Central New York and Ohio," Moley said.

Slaby said the company plans to invest $288,000 in renovating the building, with a Nov. 1 target date for completion.

"This facility is 2 1/2 times [the size of] what we have right now," Slaby said.

The board voted to hold a public hearing, although again the hearing date and terms of the tax break are not yet known.

Kinyon also told the board that contractors working for Yahoo have been laying new fiber optic cable to the data center in the industrial park.

The buried cable has been run on Hinman and Bear Ridge roads, the Lockport bypass and Upper Mountain Road in front of the General Motors plant. Kinyon said the fiber optic service is available to other tenants in the industrial park, not just Yahoo.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com