TIF grant OK'd for former Jr. Food Mart

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By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

The Vandalia City Council approved on Monday two TIF grants, including one for the rehabilitation of a building at a major intersection in the city.

The council OK’d a grant of up to $15,000 to Dennis Grubaugh, who last fall purchased the building at the northeast corner of Kennedy Boulevard and Gallatin Street that formerly housed Jr. Food Mart.
In his presentation to the city’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) committee, Grubaugh said that he is rehabbing the building, and that he recently found a tenant for the building.
Grubaugh said that Lorenzo’s Pizza and Pasta is relocating from its current location at Sixth and Orchard streets, and that operations at the new location will likely begin in February.
In his application for TIF assistance, Grubaugh said that the costs of rehabilitating the building are slightly less than $95,000.
The council also approved a grant of up to $15,000 to McKellar, Robertson, McCarty and Click Insurance for the replacement of the roof on the insurance agency’s building at the southwest corner of Fifth and Gallatin streets.
Pat Click of the agency told the TIF committee, and the council, that the current roof has had some significant leaks for some time.
The estimated cost of the roof replacement is $67,300.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council approved a new tax levy, which has the same total as the previous one.
At the Nov. 5 council meeting, Gottman gave aldermen two options for a new levy – one with a total that’s the same as the one for the current fiscal year; or one with a 5-percent increase.
Aldermen agreed at that meeting to keep the levy at the current level.
In November, Gottman and Executive Secretary LaTisha Paslay explained that the police pension figure would be reduced, due to retirements and other departures.
That reduction will be offset by increases in other funds, including fire protection. Gottman told the council that the fire department is going to have some major expenses in coming years, including the replacement of its ladder truck.
After approving the levy, the council approved an ordinance abating taxes from a 2007 general obligation bond issue.
The taxes are abated annually because revenues in the city’s infrastructure sales tax fund are sufficient to make the bond payment.
Also at Monday’s meeting:
• The council approved Jimmie Bowen’s resignation from the city’s zoning board of adjustments.
• The council approved a new lease for a tourism billboard located along Interstate 70 east of Vandalia.
Through the new agreement, which runs through December 2017, the city is paying Troy Reed $250 annually to have the billboard on his property.
• The council accepted the bid of Cripe Farms for city farmland off of Main Street on the city’s west side.
Cripe Farms bid of $40,200, or $335 per tillable acre on 120 acres, was the lowest of three bids received by the city.
Wehrle Farms submitted a bid of $40,000, and Seed Time and Harvest Inc. bid $24,100.
• The council accepted the bid of $775 from Roy Balderas for a lot in the 1200 block of West St. Louis Avenue that the city acquired after it was ruled as derelict.
Balderas’s bid was the only one received by the city for that lot.
• The council approved the purchase of three refurbished actuators for the city’s water plant.
Alderman Terry Beesley, chairman of the council’s water and sewer committee, said that the cost of the three refurbished actuators, $3,738, is lower than the price of two new ones, $4,200, and that both models carry a one-year warranty.
• Gottman asked the city’s lake committee to discuss problems with leaves in Vandalia Lake.
The mayor said, “We are having a lot of people raking and blowing leaves into the lake, causing it to silt up even more.”
Gottman said the leaves are increasing the cost of treating water pulled from the lake for distribution to the city’s water customers.
• Beesley reported that he continues to be approached by residents of the lake area about the city’s possible agreement with Kaskaskia Springs Water Co.
Beesley said those residents are worried that wells used by Kaskaskia Springs will damage their wells, and asked what the city might do to alleviate their concerns.
“All kinds of testing has to be done,” he said, noting that the water and sewer committee has worked to receive assurances from Walt Barenfanger and Jeff Beckman that their wells will not cause other, nearby wells to go dry.
Gottman said that the city will hold a public hearing on the issue prior to the Dec. 17 council meeting.