TIF committee recommends funds for seven projects

Vandalia’s Tax Increment Financing Committee is recommending to the city council that it use the limited TIF monies now available to help fund seven improvement projects.

The TIF Committee decided on Tuesday to recommend several smaller TIF grants and to allow a property tax benefit for two of the seven projects.

The committee voted to endorse TIF grants for:

• Thompson’s Home Center, $7,500

• Dr. Mark Brunk, $7,500.

• Fred Metzger, $1,554.

• The Leader-Union, $2,630.

• Vandalia Community High School, $3,000.

• Dennis Grubaugh, $5,000.

• The Medicine Shoppe, $6,000.

In addition to the grants, the committee recommend that Thompson’s and Brunk receive 70 percent of the new property taxes created in the next 10 years as a result of their improvements.

As the committee began to assess the applications for TIF funding, Director of Economic Development JoAnn Givens told members that the city has between $30,000 and $35,000 remaining in the TIF fund for this year.

Among those present to explain their application was Brunk, who plans to build a new facility for his dental practice just west of his current facility at Sixth and Orchard streets.

Brunk, who will mark 25 years in Vandalia this fall, said he needs additional space to handle his patient load, which he estimates at 300 patients per week. He said he is the only dentist in this region that concentrates on Public Aid recipients, and that those patients make up about 70 percent of his total patient base.

He said that he has brought in another dentist, “and I can’t keep that person if I don’t expand.”

Brunk also said that he is allowed to have up to four dental hygienists, but currently has room for only three.

He estimates that the new construction will ultimately result in seven or eight new employees, and that there’s a possibility of putting a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor in his current facilities once the new building is completed.

Josh Henry told TIF Committee members that he and his wife, pharmacist Keri, are planning an expansion to The Medicine Shoppe, which is located at 1442 N. Eighth St.

Henry said they plan to tear out the wall on the north side of business and expand into the next building in the strip owned by Dean Bowen.

He said they plan to create a community health resource center, private consultation room and conference room, and increase the retail area of the business.

The couple’s goal is to increase sales, he said, and the project could potentially create some new jobs.

Joanna Helm, owner of Words, Wicks and Wood, explained Metzger’s application, saying that she will move from her current location at 505 W. Gallatin St. into the building at 513 W. Gallatin St., which is owned by Metzger, within the next two months.

“We’re so crammed where we are,” Helm said, adding that the move will help her to better handle a growing customer base.

“We literally get new customers every day,” she said.

The rehabilitation of the business’s new home includes new drywall, wiring and flooring.

Grubaugh’s request for funds to help with work on the Liberty Theater building in the 200 block of South Fourth Street was the second such request. The city council turned down his first request, saying it wanted more details about what Grubaugh plans to do with the building.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Grubaugh asked for a TIF grant of up to $25,000 to help fund a roofing project, which has been estimated to cost $151,580.

Grubaugh said that he still has no definite plans for the building, and that he won’t have to make that kind of decision if the roof isn’t fixed.

“We’re basically trying to save the building,” he told the committee. “If we don’t do something with the roof, the building will be coming down.”

Grubaugh purchased the building after a winter storm caused significant damage to the roof. The interior of the building has sustained damage from water getting inside.

“Right now, we’re more concerned about saving the building than anything else,” he said, adding that the building has repeatedly been the target of vandals.

Vandalia Superintendent of Schools Rich Well spoke on behalf of the school district’s request for TIF funds to help pay for the replacement of windows at the high school, a project estimated to cost $144,000.

Well told the committee that the project “is not a life or death issue,” but that the district needs to install new windows because the current ones do not function properly.

He said the district would be unable to do the project without TIF monies, and that the district does lose some property tax monies because of the city’s TIF districts.

In the recommendation she gave to the committee for a $3,000 grant to the school district, Givens said that money would be enough to pay for windows in two classrooms, and that the city would ask the school district to match its contribution for two other classrooms.

As they discussed the school district request, committee members talked about the existing five-year TIF agreement through which the city is giving the district $100,000 for the replacement of the high school gym roof.

“Until that (TIF agreement) is complete, that’s a pretty good chunk of money,” said committee member Shaun Murray.

Other committee members supported Murray’s idea of telling school district officials they would consider a larger grant once the term of the existing agreement expires.

The committee also recommended a $2,630 grant to The Leader-Union for new windows on the east and south sides of the building at 229 S. Fifth St.

The committee had also received an application from Keith and Kathy Schaal for improvements to the building at 112 N. Kennedy Blvd. that houses both their residence and their business, Century 21 Schaal & Associates.

That request was tabled after the committee learned that an upstairs addition was for their living quarters, not the business.

Changes were also made to the area of the home used for the business, and Givens agreed to ask a consultant whether the renovations would be eligible for TIF funds.

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