County Council OKs loan-grant application for Saks

September 10, 1995|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Sun Staff Writer

The Harford County Council has authorized the Rehrmann administration to apply for a $3 million loan-grant to entice Saks Fifth Avenue to build a $36 million distribution center in Aberdeen.

The combined loan-grant derives from state economic development funds, but Rehrmann administration officials needed council approval before applying for those funds on behalf of Saks.

Paul Gilbert, the head of the county's economic development department, told the council Tuesday night that the deal with Saks to build a 470,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center is "ninety-nine percent" complete.

The New York-based chain would bring as many as 450 jobs to Harford, with an average pay of $8.82 per hour, Mr. Gilbert said.

The same evening, a bill was introduced to provide Saks with $625,000 in tax credits during the next five years. The council will hold a public hearing Oct. 3 on granting the tax credits.

Council members also heard testimony on a proposal to grant $450,000 in tax credits to McCormick & Co. Inc., the Hunt Valley-based spice manufacturer that is building a 370,000-square-foot distribution center at Riverside Business Park.

That facility will be completed in December and will bring 150 jobs to Harford, Mr. Gilbert told the council. But eventually the company could expand the facility to 600,000 square feet with an additional 225 jobs, he said.

Councilman Mitch Shank questioned Mr. Gilbert about the relatively low-paying jobs. "I'm getting a little nervous about all these warehouse jobs," Mr. Shank said.

But not all the jobs with Saks will be warehouse jobs, Mr. Gilbert said. Some 50,000 square feet of the Saks facility will be used for office and telemarketing staff, he said.

Plus, Mr. Gilbert said, the image of the warehouse worker standing around next to a forklift isn't accurate anymore. Warehouse workers have to be skilled with computers and modern schemes of inventory.

In other action, the council:

* Voted 7-0 to hold a public hearing on a proposal to charge people with car phones and other wireless telephones a 50-cent monthly fee to help pay for 911 emergency calls. Now, commercial and residential telephone customers pay the 50-cent pTC monthly fee. This past session, the General Assembly gave counties the authority to impose a 911 fee on wireless phones, said Robert Hockaday, an aide to County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann.

* Honored Aberdeen Mayor Charles Boutin for his efforts in establishing a Cal Ripken Museum in Aberdeen. The museum is to open by next baseball season and will be housed in the old City Hall.

* Introduced a resolution that calls for the closing of two roads in Perryman -- Bush River and Boyer roads. The two public roads provide the only access to a 700-acre tract belonging to Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. The utility has complained that trespassers damage property, litter and cause other problems on the property. The council will hold a public hearing Sept. 19.

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