Tuesday, April 06, 2010
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Les Last, left, and Mayor Keith Snyder

City briefs: enterprise zone, Walmart tax abatement, Last farewell and more

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[April 06, 2010]  At the Monday night voting session of the Lincoln City Council, Cub Scout Troop 111 was present to talk about the upcoming Scout Sweep.

Mayor Keith Snyder called on the Scouts to lead the council in the pledge to the United States flag.

With one seat vacant and Alderwoman Stacy Bacon absent for the evening, eight aldermen were present for voting.

Two vote no on enterprise zone

Alderwoman Marty Neitzel made a motion to approve the most recent request for an amendment to the enterprise zone, and it was seconded by Alderman Jeff Hoinacki.

During discussion, Steve McClure of Opportunity Alliance took the podium to address the group and field questions.

This amendment to the zone will add enterprise zone designations to a number of communities throughout Logan County where there are grain elevators that plan to expand in the near future.

The suggestion to add these communities came from the Logan County Board after Elkhart Grain in Elkhart was approved last year.

McClure said this new amendment also adds property within the city limits of Lincoln that would be available for business development in the future.

In addition, at Snyder's request, this agreement includes only a 50 percent reduction in applicable construction fees, where in past agreements, all fees had been waived.

McClure noted that this would help the city, as they would be able to collect some money from the development of enterprise zone property included in the agreement.

Alderman Buzz Busby voiced the same question he did at the last discussion: "What is Lincoln getting out of this?"

McClure reiterated that developable property in the city already in the zone makes it more attractive to businesses, plus the change in the fees would add to city revenues.

He added that much of what would be purchased for the elevator expansion would not be purchased in Logan County. Therefore, the sales tax abatements included in the enterprise zone designation would have no effect on this community.

Alderman Joni Tibbs expressed thoughts that even though this wasn't going to affect the city all that much, it would help the county, in that the elevators that are expanding will become more efficient and will be able to service the farmers more quickly at harvest time.

She expressed concern that with the elevators not being large enough to accommodate farmers quickly, those farmers might be taking their products to locations outside the county.

Neitzel said: "This is my last time to vote yes on the enterprise zone. I don't feel we are being fair to the people of the city of Lincoln. Lincoln needs whatever this council can give it."

She went on to say that the enterprise zone was saving the elevators money. If they spend $500,000 for new equipment, they will save $30,000 in taxes, yet they aren't going to be spending that money locally, helping area businesses.

She ended by saying: "I was very hesitant to even make this motion this evening. I want you to see how we feel about our town."

When the roll call vote was taken, six voted yes but Aldermen David Armbrust and Busby voted no.

Second annual payment to Walmart approved

The second annual sales tax rebate payment to Walmart will amount to $185,699.26.

The payment, which was approved by unanimous vote, is part of an agreement made regarding infrastructure construction when the Walmart Supercenter was built. The city is to pay Walmart approximately $600,000 total in annual payments, based on increases in sales tax revenues from the new store.

The first payment, made in October, amounted to slightly less than $183,000. With this year's payment of $185,699.26, the city is over halfway through the payback plan.

Bid awarded to Davis-Houk

Davis-Houk of Urbana was unanimously voted as the winner of the bid for the Singleton lift station project. Coming in at $560,000, that bid was approximately $150,000 less than all other bids for the project.

After Busby made the motion to award the bid, Neitzel asked what the real savings was going to be to the city by doing the complicated, three- to four-step switch-outs between Singleton, Kmart and Zion lift stations.

Busby said that even though the bids had all come in higher than originally anticipated, overall, this plan will save the city at least $300,000 over replacing all the lift stations.

Busby also noted that the project will be paid for out of the 2009-10 budget year.

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Troop 111 invites everyone to participate in Scout Sweep Day

Jason Shaffer of Cub Scout Troop 111 addressed the council, inviting them to all join in Scout Sweep Day on May 15.

The now-annual event began as a project for Troop 111, but last year several other troops and organizations were invited to join in and did so.

Shaffer said he is hoping they will see the same participation this year.

He also said that in addition to the downtown area, this year the troop plans to spend time on the city's west side, cleaning up around Kroger and Walmart.

The troop will be issuing a press release regarding the sweep in the very near future.

Council honors Les Last

Les Last, the city's building and safety officer, is retiring the end of this week. Monday evening there was an informal reception on the main floor of City Hall.

During the meeting, Snyder called Last to the podium and addressed him directly, expressing appreciation for his years of service to the city and wishing him well as he enters retirement.

"We know you didn't have an easy job," Snyder said. "In fact you've had a very difficult job, and having been across the hall from you, I've heard some of those difficulties."

Snyder presented Last with a plaque marking his 15 years of service to the city.

Last then spoke: "In all the years I have worked here, I have had good people to work with in the office, the street department, fire department, the police department; they are all great."

After he finished speaking, Last left his normal seat with department heads and joined several members of his family, wife, children and grandchildren in the general audience.

Lebegue sworn in

Immediately following Last's leaving his seat, Snyder called on John Lebegue to come forward and be officially sworn in as the city's new building and safety officer.

Lebegue was invited to say a few words and expressed appreciation to Last for the week they have spent together.

He said that he had found the people of the city to be very welcoming and that Lincoln has a lot of charm.

He noted that there were some challenges ahead, some areas in town that were going to need some "tough love," but that he looked forward to working to make those areas better.

Consent agenda items approved

Included in this week's consent agenda vote was approval for street barricades on the downtown square during the 2010 Grand March for prom, to be held May 1 at the Logan County Courthouse; street closures on April 24 for the Lincoln College Run, Ramble & Roll; and a proclamation designating May 15 as Scout Sweep Day in the city of Lincoln.

Budget meeting rescheduled

The second budget workshop had been scheduled for April 10. Alderwoman Melody Anderson said the meeting would have to be rescheduled to April 17. Again, that meeting will begin at 8 a.m. and be finished no later than noon.


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