Plastics finishing company has initial approval for tax abatement

A Columbus-based plastics finishing company has initial approval for a tax abatement on more than $1 million in improvements and updates to its local facilities.

The Columbus City Council gave unanimous approval last week to a 10-year tax abatement for Screen Tech Designs, which is seeking a real property tax abatement on $550,000 for a building expansion and a personal property tax abatement on $700,000 for new equipment.

Screen Tech, a family owned company that formed in Columbus in the 1980s, does plastics finishing work such as spray painting appliances, for the medical, automotive and consumer appliance industries, said Paul Saddler, Screen Tech president.

Its facility in the Columbus AirPark at 2651 Cessna Drive is now 18,000 square feet, but Screen Tech vice president Scott Saddler wrote in a letter to the city that the company plans to expand the building by an additional 13,500 square feet.

The expansion will create a need for more equipment in the Screen Tech plant as more employees are hired, which is why the company also is applying for a tax abatement on new equipment, Paul Saddler told council members.

Screen Tech received a city tax abatement more than 20 years ago, which allowed the company to build its current facility in the Columbus AirPark, Scott Saddler said.

In a meeting of the incentive review committee, which reviews tax abatement requests prior to council meetings and makes recommendations to the full council, city Councilman Tim Shuffett praised Screen Tech for its commitment to working in Columbus for the past 30 years.

“You’ve been here, and you want to be here,” Shuffett said.

However, during the incentive review committee meeting and the council meeting, city Councilman Frank Miller said he had concerns about the city’s tax abatement assessment process.

Miller said Screen Tech’s expected average wage of $10.67, which the company was required to disclose as part of its abatement application, seemed lower than the average wages of most companies seeking an abatement.

To that end, Miller said the city should implement a scoring process for reviewing abatement applications to determine which companies are most deserving of a full 10-year abatement. Issues such as average wage would be considered in the scoring process, and Screen Tech’s average wage would likely have lowered the score he would have given them, Miller said.

However, Robin Hilber, community development programs coordinator, said Screen Tech’s abatement application shows that the company will maintain 27 employees while also hiring an estimated three additional employees by the end of 2019. Some abatements have been granted without the promise of generating more jobs, so Hilber said that fact should work to Screen Tech’s advantage.

Additionally, Scott Saddler said he thinks his company’s wages are competitive.

He said Screen Tech currently employs a wide range of workers, including some with college degrees and others who did not finish high school. As the company grows, the employees with lower education levels but longer experience working in the industry will eventually get promoted to higher positions, which will lead to higher pay.

Miller chose to vote in favor of the abatement during the council meeting. The council is scheduled to take a final vote on the Screen Tech abatement at its June 21 meeting.

About DSE

DSE, Inc., better known as Screen Tech Designs, was founded as a T-shirt printing company in the basement of the local Saddler family’s home in the 1980s.

Today, Paul and Scott Saddler have grown the company into a 27-employee plastics finishing operations located in the Columbus AirPark. As a plastic finishing company, Screen Tech’s work includes jobs such as spray painting kitchen and other appliances.

Screen Tech’s tax abatement request would allow the company to expand its existing 18,000 square foot facility by 13,500 square feet at an estimated cost of $550,000. Additionally, the abatement would also be used toward purchasing $700,000 in new equipment.

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.