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Abzac seeks lower taxes

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Town council will receive a request tonight from Abzac Canada-Fort Frances Division to reduce its current tax levy at 840 Fifth St. W.

Plant manager Peter Engberg said Friday that Abzac, which produces paper cores for use in rolls of paper at AbitibiBowater and other area mills, is looking for ways to keep its operations viable.

“We are very much geared to the pulp and paper industry . . . we are suffering the effects of the economic downturn and what’s happened to the paper industry,” he noted.

“Abzac is looking at all avenues to keep our operations running here.

“We’re also heavily canvassing ourselves in the Midwest and trying to look at industrial plastics accounts, etc.,” Engberg added.

“But at this point, we haven’t picked up much additional business and the operations here are somewhat in doubt,” he warned.

Engberg has written a letter to the town requesting a tax reduction, which will be received by council at its regular meeting tonight.

“We’re just approaching the town to see if there’s some relief we can gain there and do what we can,” Engberg explained.

“We have 17 personnel working here at this plant and we’d like to keep that up if we can,” he stressed. “But in this climate, we don’t know if we’ll be a victim or not.

“The town has recommended we go through the MPAC and go through that avenue first. We’ll go through all the hoops that we’re supposed, and what the outcome will be, I am unsure of.

“But certainly, Abzac, as a company, is looking for all avenues to maintain doing business here in Fort Frances,” Engberg pledged.

Abzac Canada-Fort Frances Division employs 14 union employees and three management staff.

Tonight’s council meeting is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. at the Civic Centre.

The committee of the whole will meet first at 5 p.m., but is expected to be in-camera downstairs until 6:55 p.m., after which time they’ll reconvene in council chambers for the public portion of that meeting.

Other business on tonight’s agenda will include:

•federal gas tax and federal public transit audited statements;

•a recommendation regarding a donation to the “Community Chest” fundraising social held on March 20;

•a report on tender No. 09-CS-5 (waterfront redevelopment and relocation of the lookout tower and “Hallett”);

•a bylaw to authorize an agreement for an asbestos survey and management plan with DST Consulting Engineers;

•a bylaw to authorize the sale of certain land to Daryl’s Custom Landscapes Ltd.;

•a resolution from the City of Sault Ste. Mare regarding the effect of the Northern Ontario Medical School of Medicine and specialists and specialist services on the future of health care in Northern Ontario; and

•a public notice of property declared surplus (specifically property on the west side of McIrvine Road North at Eighth Street West).

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