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The debate of just how much Tax Increment Finance (TIF) monies should be granted to businesses for improvement projects within the City of Vandalia.
In the first order of business dealing with the TIF monies, a proposal was brought before the council listing the “best practices, recommended by the advisory board. The advisory board is made up of representatives of all taxing bodies that could receive TIF monies.
Before voting on the measure, Crawford asked about how much training the members of the board had regarding TIF funds, and Bret Brosman, the city representative, said there is no training available and that members have to “train themselves.”
Basically the proposed changes in the best practices dealt with adding an “approved alternate” as well as adding the wording of “not more” than 25 percent of project costs granted with the funding.
TIF Districts, outlined by local governments and approved by the state, allows for the collection of sales tax dollars from businesses within the district and property tax revenues within the TIF for improvements within the district to encourage new economic development and job creation.
According to the state website, “Funds may be used for costs associated with the development or redevelopment of property within the TIF, allowing blighted, declining and underperforming areas to again become viable, and allowing these areas to compete with vacant land at the edge of urban areas.”
While the benefits of TIF were lauded at the meeting, the question of just how much a business should receivewas discussed. Two local businesses, Leskera Law Firm and Bates Properties had requested 37 percent and 50 percent reimbursements respectively on receipts from projects they are involved in.
While discussion had centered on the 25 percent mentioned in the best practices, Amber Daulbaugh, economic develop director for the city, reminded the council that it is the ultimate authority on awarding of the monies. “You guys are ultimately responsible,” she said.
Both Leskera’s and Bates’ projects were praised by all of the councilman, however some, including Andy Lester, expressed concern over the amount being requested.
“I am a 25 percent guy and am hung up on that number,” Lester said. While he reiterated the great jobs the projects were doing, he did not see either business’ projects as being extraordinary, warranting extra monies. Although Leskera’s business was unique to the area, for the number of jobs created, Lester did not feel the projects are deserving of extra percentages.
Both Jay Leskera and Ty Bates told the council, in their individual addresses to the council, that their projects would come to a halt if the funding was not awarded, not because of spite from the businessmen, but for financial reasons.
Leskera’s request was approved at 37 percent, while Bates’ request was approved at 25 percent.
In other business, the council:
• heard a request from Will Baldock for the request of a Class E Liquor License for a bar and grill that he is opening on the south side of Vandalia in the former VFW building. Baldock said that he will not be open until August or September, and the council informed him there should be no problems and action will be taken at the April 19 meeting;
• approved a bid for a squad car for the Vandalia Police Department from Hosick Motors for a 2021 Dodge Charger at a cost of $26,349.
• approved the closure of Rock Island Avenue on June 19, between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. for a block party, between Randolph and Main Streets;
• approved the closure of Gallatin Street, and Fourth Street, from Main to Johnson, for Wine and Ale with Abe, to be held on September 25;
• adopted an ordinance for the sale of a 2000 Ford Cutaway Box Truck;
• accepted the resignation of Neil Clark from the Zoning Board of Adjustments;
• heard from Mayor Ricky Gottman that COVID-19 cases are again on the rise in the area. He also announced that the prison population is included in the city population figures when determining motor fuel tax allotments from the state, but for redistricting purposes, they are considered residents of their hometowns;
• Lake Committee Chairman Russ Stunkel reported there have been some problems with area residents driving go carts and three wheelers out at the campground areas of the lake. Discussion was centered on if the city could request the county to patrol at certain times to help to curtail the situation, and
• under the Railroad, Economic Development and Tourism committee, it was reported a local business is seeking 15 employees.