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  • Kent Casson

City Council discusses TIF matters

Mitch Cheatham of Reliable Engineering addresses the Chenoa City Council on Tuesday.

Tax Increment Financing, or TIF, was a recurring theme at Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Chenoa City Council.

Kishor Salunkhe and Mitch Cheatham with Reliable Engineering conducted a follow-up presentation to an earlier one made back in September. The business is expanding the manufacturing and warehouse area just behind the old Texaco station on Division Street. They are constructing a building this spring.

“We are hiring more employees,” explained Cheatham.

The business is pursuing new business and expanding its customer base. Salunkhe noted they will provide parts for an electric school bus and part of the expansion is for a John Deere parts warehouse where they will re-package parts and ship to Deere. Several parts are designed, tested and manufactured for clients such as Caterpillar and Komatsu as was revealed during a previous council meeting.

Mayor Chris Wilder acknowledged the business did ask for TIF funding in the past but the agreement did not come to a formal vote.

“He wants us to move forward with this as soon as possible,” said the mayor.

The Chenoa Economic Development Council will go over the numbers and make a recommendation prior to the next City Council meeting. The issue was forwarded to the EDC in early December and member Cristina Vercler said the group is looking into the numbers. The EDC is approaching the matter from a conservative standpoint to make sure they have funds to give others as well.

Ashley Butler gave a presentation on the EDC, which was asked to help make recommendations for TIF requests. They have created a draft of proposed guidelines with guidance from the TIF administrator. This is to ensure the city is making a good investment with taxpayer money.

The draft proposal attempts to create consistency across the board with the TIF program. The group is seeking the city’s input on setting some of the maximum and cap amounts. Also, items which may be requested for an applicant include credit reference, business and financial report and a business plan.

“They’re just things to help protect the city’s investment a little bit,” Butler explained.

“We’d like your feedback on this.”

“You’re going in the right direction,” noted Commissioner Dwayne Price.

The city will review these draft EDC guidelines and follow-up on the matter.

A vote on the zoning board recommendation for property at 503 Hoselton Drive did not happen since City Attorney Steve Mann suggested continuing this to the next meeting so all information is available for review, such as a transcript. The zoning board voted 4-1 in early March not to recommend the zoning change.

Sarah Michaels was approved to fill a vacancy on the Chenoa Economic Development Committee. This comes after a member stepped down in recent months.

“These are all appointed every two years,” explained Wilder.

Streets Commissioner Price reported alley work has been taking place. He reminded the public not to distract the city workers as they need to keep working when out and about. Price suggested anyone with a serious question to direct it to the council.

“They really get sidetracked sometimes,” he said.

Water and Sewer Commissioner Joe Moreland has received a couple of water complaints. Moreland encourages residents to report issues now as they will be flushing in late April or early May. He also said bids open in April for the clean tank.

Parks Commissioner Chad Daiker pointed to the need for help this summer. The city is looking for a part-time lawn mower and swimming pool lifeguards. Anyone interested should see City Hall for more information.

After reaching out to the EDC in Bloomington, Mayor Wilder said he has received information regarding enterprise zones and TIF districts. For an enterprise zone to get started near Shell and McDonald’s, he was told a minimum capital investment of $250,000 is needed with a minimum of 25 full-time jobs. A project would need to be ready to go in order to expand the zone.

During public comment, resident Dave Schultz asked if he could park his recreational vehicle in an alley.

“There’s nothing in that alley,” Schultz told the council.

Wilder explained the west half of the alley is still city property and the city attorney said it is not just a city issue as private owners often have to weigh-in on something such as this. The council will discuss this further.

Amy VanVleet announced plans for a memorial bench at the pond at no cost to the city, in honor of Rick Householder.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Price.

The bench will be anchored with a concrete pad and it is poly black in color.

“It’s not supposed to fade,” explained VanVleet.

Council members and the mayor were all alright with the request.

Melissa Cooper asked council members if electricity can be increased at the football field to accommodate more food trucks at the Fourth of July fireworks. Daiker said they will try to get a bid or estimate to see how much it would cost.

Sarah Michaels updated the group on electricity at the swimming pool for upcoming events. Ameren came out and indicated the energy is in place and the city can move forward. The service coming off of the poles in that area is fine and their recommendation is to find an electrician.

“This is an evolving project, nothing is written in stone,” Michaels said.

Wilder noted a few different contractors have been used in the past and he will pass along the contact information.

Michaels also reported on a recent Red Carpet Corridor meeting for Route 66. Each community will have an image with the “Mother Road Million” logo. She would like to utilize space to advertise the Route 66 event in May along Interstate 55 for passing motorists to see. Michaels asked about selling billboard ad space.

The council entered into an executive session to discuss pending, probable or imminent litigation although no action was taken.

Amy VanVleet shows plans for a memorial park bench to members of the Chenoa City Council Tuesday.

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