Vienna lucky to have good neighbor

The owner of Kundel Industries was kind when Vienna trustees last month unanimously defeated his request for a 60 percent tax abatement on a half-million dollar expansion at the Ridge Road facility.

This week, Robert Kundel Sr. said he knows it’s a challenge for small communities to pay the bills and keep good police officers. Residents and officials in Vienna Township and Trumbull County must be grateful for such an understanding businessman and a good neighbor, especially since this was only the second time in about 20 years that any Trumbull County community voted against an abatement.

Trustees voted against the abatement May 18, about two weeks after residents in Vienna voted down an additional police levy. Trustees said if residents voted against the tax, they should do their part and not hand out reductions in taxes to others.

The Trumbull County Planning Commission estimates the abatement would have saved Kundel Industries a minimal amount – about $5,000 or $6,000 a year – in property taxes. That’s a small price to pay for a company that has operated as a good neighbor in Vienna for about a decade. Before that, it was located on Warren’s northwest side for many years. It’s doubtful such a longtime Trumbull County company would pull up stakes and leave town if it didn’t get its abatement, so denying the abatement probably wasn’t too risky.

Still, some would argue this is exactly the kind of company that should receive a small tax abatement as appreciation for its ongoing commitment to the local economy. Mark Zigmont of the Trumbull County Planning Commission even said he fears the move might paint a picture that Vienna isn’t welcoming to business.

This week, they voted to begin the process of putting the 1.5-mill, five-year additional levy back on the ballot in November and feared the tax abatement may have had a negative impact on attempts to pass these upcoming levy.

Trustees apparently believed it was more important to persuade the taxpayers to support their levies.

Trustee Heidi Brown said with the recent defeat of a police tax levy, it would not be fair to the taxpayers to approve the request.

Luckily, trustees did not shoot themselves in the foot because Robert Kundel Sr. said that, God willing, he still plans to move forward with the expansion to his business, even without the abatement.

“We feel we are a part of the community. There are no threats on our part. I have very high interest in the community,” Kundel said.

Vienna trustees are fortunate to have a businessman so dedicated to their community. Not all communities are so lucky.