County hears coal mine's request for enterprise zone
mine planning $20 million expansion
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[November 14, 2008]
An enterprise zone request from
International Coal Group, LLC, which mines south of Elkhart, was
launched during Logan County's finance committee meeting on Thursday
morning and continued in the evening before the full board.
Guests who were present and contributed information at both
meetings were Bob Gardner, president and CEO of International Coal
Group; Victoria Kennedy, ICG controller; Phil Mahler, enterprise
zone manager and Logan County Regional Planning Commission director;
and Joel Smiley, Lincoln & Logan County Development Partnership
At the top of Logan County interests at this time is the road
renovation of County Highway 10, commonly known as the Mount
Pulaski-to-Elkhart blacktop. This road passes the mine and is
important to it.
Most of the coal that is mined travels on about 1 1/2 miles of
Logan County highways to get to Springfield.
Some coal is transported on the Mount Pulaski-to-Elkhart
blacktop. In response to a question by Rick Aylesworth, it was said
that about 1,200 trucks, or 35,000 tons, travel the blacktop each
Logan County highway engineer Bret Aukamp projects costs for the
complete road project at $5.5 million, more or less, probably more.
He said that this project would need help from some other sources to
complete it. If the full funds could not be found, the project would
still get done but would have to be scaled back. The mile and a half
to the mine would be the first cut. Weight limits over the rest of
the road would be reduced.
While the enterprise zone application is unrelated to the grant
process for the road project, the coal mine representatives and
enterprise zone consultants have been assisting the highway
department in trying to get development funds for that project.
Up to $2 million could possibly be obtained from state
transportation economic development funds for the road project.
Steve McClure said they have been working diligently trying to get
some of those funds. He planned to meet with state officials Friday
(Nov. 14). "This is clearly a regional economic development
project," he said, in that it crosses county borders. It is just the
kind of project the state program looks for. "The road is needed for
the business; it retains jobs and expands the number of jobs. It is
a cookie-cutter project," McClure said.
Right now, because the coal comes out of the mine in Logan
County, Logan County collects sales tax on the coal that is sold.
Last year sales tax amounted to $10,000. Currently it has been about
$1,500 a month, or $18,000 a year. With a new customer that the
company has just gotten, the tax is anticipated to come in at about
$100,000 next year.
The current branch of the mine is about tapped out. The expansion
would be mostly under Sangamon County and would move the mouth of
the mine to Sangamon County in about two years. Sales tax would then
go to Sangamon County.
Finance chairman Chuck Ruben was glad for the one-year boost the
county would be seeing from the higher sales the coal mine is
having, but he noted that the county would need to keep that in mind
when they are budgeting two years from now, to expect that drop in
revenue, as it would now be a more significant loss.
[to top of second column]
Smiley, the development partnership director, agreed that this is a
good project that helps the region. While some benefits and future
sales tax would go to Sangamon County, the $20,000 annual fee the
mine is offering would help offset that. Also, some jobs at the mine
would be maintained and a few added, with residents of Logan County
filling them, in addition to jobs in supporting industries, such as
County board chairman Dick Logan saw job retention as a great
value and expressed confidence in the future of Illinois coal.
The county, like the city discussed this week, would also look at
using some of the annual fees, which would reach $35,000 a year, to
pay for economic administrative service costs. The fees could be
used for membership payments to the Lincoln and Logan County
Enterprise Zone, Logan County Regional Planning Commission, Lincoln
& Logan County Development Partnership, and for the Comprehensive
Economic Development Strategy fee.
Smiley said that when he was a city manager they were able to
charge against time spent by the city clerk and other entities on
the development projects, which then spares the general fund from
A straw vote of the county board indicated no opposition to
approving the enterprise zone designation for the mine expansion.
Board members Terry Werth and John Stewart were not present.
The board will take it to a formal vote on Tuesday when they meet
at 7 p.m. at the Logan County Courthouse.
The request was presented to the Lincoln City Council earlier
this week and awaits voting there as well. For more details, see
article posted Tuesday: "City
hears enterprise zone request from coal mine; County could see funds
for major road project with coal mine expansion."