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Belkorp won't say why plant start-up delayed

July 09, 2004|by RYAN C. TUCK

ryant@herald-mail.com

The former recycling plant at Eastern and Memorial boulevards remains empty and its new owner, Belkorp Industries, isn't saying why.

Belkorp Associate Vice President David Slater said Thursday that the plant is not commissioned for start-up, as the company's Web site said in 2003.

The Web site for Newstech, the division of Belkorp that would supervise plant operations, now says, "not in operation at this time."

Newstech paper and pulp mills in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania also are "not in operation at this time," Slater said.

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Slater would not discuss reasons for the start-up delay.

Belkorp purchased the plant, known as Newstech MD, at a bankruptcy auction in November 2001 and estimated that the plant would be operational by the end of 2002. In April 2003, Slater said the 2002 estimate apparently was overly optimistic.

Although the plant has not opened for operation, Belkorp is still paying city taxes, city Treasurer Stephen Wolfensberger said.

The Vancouver-based company has to pay real estate and personal property taxes this year, he said.

A 9-acre portion of the property, assessed at around $481,700, will cost the company $3,843.97 in base taxes this year, Wolfensberger said.

The larger 15-acre section of the property assessed at $2,418,300 will cost the company $19,298.03 in base taxes this year, he said.

The same portion of the plant was assessed at $9,514,700 in 2002, he said.

Belkorp also has to pay a personal property tax for equipment, vehicles used on the property and other goods that depreciate, which this year will cost the company $143,640 if paid by Sept. 30. The company bought the $220 million plant for $7.5 million.

The plant opened as 1st Urban Fiber in October 1996 and was in operation for less than a year. Bondholders seized the plant and it was placed in receivership in 1997 and the property became known as Hagerstown Fiber Operations.

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