City OKs TIF for Old Capitol Center

Vandalia’s Tax Increment Financing Advisory Committee recommended sticking to the TIF Best Practices document, and the city council agreed with that recommendation.
Brad Bowman submitted an application seeking a TIF grant application seeking 50 percent of the estimated cost for improvements to two buildings at the Old Capitol Shopping Center.
Bowman was asking for $32,425.97, half of the cost for replacing the floor and a portion of the roof on the Secretary of State facility and heating and air-conditioning replacement in the SOS and Dollar General buildings.
During the TIF Advisory Committee meeting, several members of the committee said they favor a 25-percent grant, citing the TIF Best Practices document put in place late last year.
Alderman Bret Brosman and Nancy Pryor, the Fayette County Hospital District representative, were among those speaking in favor of giving Bowman half of the amount requested.
Pryor questioned whether a TIF grant would be appropriate due to the fact that Bowman was not stating that his projects would create additional jobs, and she believed that was one of the TIF requirements.
“I believe job retention would also be applicable,” Brosman said.
Mike Radliff, the Vandalia Park District representative, asked Bowman whether his lease agreement with Dollar General includes anything about that company sharing in maintenance costs.
Bowman said while Dollar General now is completely responsible for improvements in the newer buildings in which it locates, his agreement is “one of the older-style leases” and does not have such a provision.
Pryor asked Bowman whether Dollar General funded the recent interior improvements, and Bowman said he was not aware of that interior work.
He said that he has tried to get Dollar General to relocate into the former home of Kroger in the Old Capitol Shopping Center, thinking they would want more space.
“They pack a lot into this 10,000-square-foot space there,” Bowman said.
Dollar General, however, has not been interested in such a move, he said.
Though he was being given half of what he requested, Bowman told advisory committee members that he was fine with that decision and that he appreciated the assistance.
The TIF agreement with Bowman includes a “clawback” provision, which would require Bowman to repay some of this TIF award if the SOS or Dollar General leave their current homes.
Adding a clawback provision to all TIF agreements was something that committee members endorse.
Amber Daulbaugh, the city’s director of economic development, said a city alderman has suggested adding clawback provisions to all agreements.
Such a provision would allow the city to recoup some or all of TIF awards in specific situations, such as the TIF grant awardee selling the building on which improvements were made or vacating the building within a few years of receiving a grant.
The clawback amounts recommended are: one year, 100 percent; two years, 80 percent; three years, 60 percent; four years, 40 perent; and five years, 20 percent.
The advisory committee also agreed to meet quarterly on a regular basis, with special meetings being possible for TIF applications related to significant economic development projects.
The city council approved the 25-percent grant request on Monday.
Prior to its approval, the possible presence of asbestos in the flooring of the SOS building was discussed, and Bowman was told that if additional fund were needed for that aspect of the project, he could come back and amend his TIF request.
Also on Monday, the council approved agreements with two local real estate firms for the sale of city property.
The agreement with Fayette County Real Estate is for the sale of lots at 414 W. Jefferson St. and 610 S. Sixth St.
The one with Weichert Realtors Heart & Home is for lots at 1106 W. Gallatin St. and 1026 W. St. Louis Ave.
The commission to be given to the two realtors varies, with Fayette County Real Estate to be paid $1,000 and Weichert Heart & Home to receive $500.
Aldermen did not support Mayor Rick Gottman’s request to make the commission $500 for both.
The action on the FCRE agreement was first on the agenda, and Gottman recommended lowering that commission, both because Sandy Michel of Weichert Heart and Home agreed to lower their commission and “because some of those are going to bring $1,000.”
Alderman Andy Lester recommended keeping the FCRE commission at $1,000.
“We did not stipulate what we were going to pay,” Lester said. “I guess you can ask her, but that’s what she’s chosen to do and we chose to kind of farm it out and spread it around. So I’m wondering if that is an ethical thing to do.
“I don’t know that we should go back to Kelly and hammer on her to lower her commission,” Lester said.
“I’m just one of eight I’m just stating my opinion on it this point, since we didn’t stipulate that 500 is over going to pay or we didn’t ask up front what their Commission’s were going to be.
“I just think it’s good business to proceed as they’ve written them,” Lester said.
Alderman Dorothy Crawford said that she agreed with Lester.
“If it wasn’t stipulated in advance, then we got what we got, and it’s a lesson for the future,” Crawford said.
Gottman said, “If we’re going to keep that as $1,000, I think we should keep Sandy’s at $1,000.”
But Lester disagreed, saying that Michel “wrote it like she felt comfortable in writing it.”
Gottman said that Michel lowered that agency’s commission after he negotiated the price with her.
City Attorney Ryan Connor gave his assessment of the situation.
“We made ourselves into a situation where, for a broker is not even worth it to do the sale at these low dollars. I can tell you that you know from a commission standpoint any that nobody’s making a killing on this deal,” Connor said.
“I assume that if they were here, they were here to tell us they tell us that that barely worth the value of doing the transaction by the time they go through the motions of it,” he said.
The council approved a $1,000 commission for Fayette County Real Estate, and later in the meeting, a motion to pay Weichert Heart and Home the same amount failed, meaning its commission would stay at $500.
Aldermen Joel Rebbe, Russ Stunkel and Ken Hubler voted for a $1,000 commission, and Lester, Crawford, Bret Brosman and Steve Barker voted no on that motion.
Also at the meeting:
• The council agreed to pay Slack Glass Co. $3,639 to install glass and Plexiglass barriers at the counter and two areas in the front section of city hall.
Those barriers are being installed to protect City Clerk Peggy Bowen and her employeed from coronavirus spread.
• The council approved an agreement through which it will pay Hurst-Roche Engineers $1,300 for the required inspection of the Thrill Hill bridge.
• The council approved the transfers of Vandalia Lake lot No. 503 from Clay Jones of Ramsey to Carolyn Seibert of Watson, and No. 309 from Susan Bauerle of Ramsey to Shain Bates of O’Fallon.
• Gottman announced that the Charles Rummelin Foundation directors approved a $1,500 grant to Lincoln Park, with the fund to be used for maintenance and that the Old Capitol Foundation approved grants for the purchase of two more digital speed limit signs near Vandalia Community High School, on Fillmore Street and Orchard Street.

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