Greene's Furniture store on SR 114

File Photo

Greene’s Amish Furniture store closed a few years ago after 30 years in business on State Road 114.

RENSSELAER — The Rensselaer City Council approved a tax abatement request from a new business that plans to occupy the old Greene’s Amish Furniture building on State Road 114.

Indiana Face Mask asked and received a tax abatement from the council at Monday’s meeting, which was held remotely on the Zoom platform.

The city’s tax abatement board recommended a five-year abatement to the new business, which is still being developed. Greene’s closed its doors after 30 years in business a few years ago.

“They recently filed their paperwork for an abatement,” Rensselaer Mayor Steve Wood said. “You have to have at least a $500,000 investment (to request an abatement), and they had something like a $650,000 investment, so they were over the threshold. They’re getting ready to go into business and we’ve extended utility lines to them. We’re just waiting until they get their equipment all in to energize all that.”

Personal protective equipment, or PPEs, will likely remain in demand as the country awaits a vaccine for COVID-19.

“I think these masks are going to be around for a while,” Wood said. “When you come into city hall, we’re requiring that you wear a mask. We’re open for business, but we are operating with certain restrictions.

“I hate to say it, but I think it’s going to be the wave of the future for a while.”

The council also approved abatement requests from established businesses, including ConAgra Foods (two real estate properties, two personal properties), Indiana Municipal Power Agency (two personal properties) and National Gypsum (personal property, real estate property).

The city’s tax abatement board met last week to review the requests and recommended that the council approve the abatements.

“We usually give a 10-year abatement,” Wood said. “With 10 years, they’re paying 10 percent after the first year, two years they’re paying 20 percent. Then after five years, they’re paying 50 percent of their tax. It’s a tool to bring business in or have businesses remodel.”

In other council news, the city signed a two-year waste disposal agreement with Republic Services in Newton County, which manages the Newton County Landfill. The agreement locks in a fee for a two-year period.

“We tried to lock in the price for a year or two because they kept raising the price on us, so we did lock it in for the next two years,” Wood said.

The council also issued a $500 check to the REN ART WLK, which will begin its second phase in late June. Artists will be in town to add 10 murals to the backs and sides of buildings throughout downtown Rensselaer.

Because the May 25 meeting has been scheduled for Memorial Day, the council decided to move its next meeting to 4 p.m. May 26.

State Rep. Doug Gutwein is scheduled to be the guest speaker at Rensselaer’s Memorial Day celebration May 25 at the Weston Cemetery.

Conducted by American Legion Post 29 in Rensselaer, the service will include the laying of wreaths at Weston Cemetery, along with messages from other speakers and the singing of patriotic songs. Wreaths will also be laid at Memory Gardens and then at Mount Calvary Cemetery.

The public is being asked to watch the service from their vehicles.