Monday, May 19, 2008
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City approached with Monsanto request for Lincoln and Logan County Enterprise Zone

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[May 19, 2008]  Logan County planning director Phil Mahler came before the Lincoln City Council earlier this month to present a proposed addition to the Lincoln and Logan County Enterprise Zone. Mahler said that he was there to present in concept a request from the Monsanto plant in Illiopolis. The plant is right next to Formosa, so the extension already goes there.

HardwareMonsanto is a growing agriculture business specializing in soybean and corn seed. They also have a plant in Farmer City. However, there is no enterprise zone that reaches the Farmer City site. Like Formosa, the benefit for Monsanto would be the break on the natural gas tax that enterprise zone designation offers.

Mahler noted that the extension to Formosa had a unique benefit in that Formosa offered and is still paying us $5,000 a year. Monsanto is willing to give the city $10,000 and the county $10,000 each year, and they are willing to continue that agreement as long as the enterprise zone is in effect, he said.

The Lincoln and Logan County Enterprise Zone was renewed in 2007 to extend another 10 years.


During the discussion that followed, several indirectly related enterprise zone matters were addressed.

Alderman Buzz Busby suggested that this might be an opportune time to rewrite the pertaining ordinances for the enterprise zone so that Lincoln can eliminate the free sewer tap that was written in. Busby brought it up previously that the new developments have been eating up the new space attained just a few years ago with the $10 million wastewater treatment plant expansion. The city needs to be able to collect the tap fees in order to prepare for the next treatment plant expansion.

In another concern, city attorney Bill Bates took issue with adding another property that is outside of Lincoln and Logan County. He said that when the extension was made to properties in Sangamon County and Elkhart, agreements were signed between all parties that Sangamon County and Elkhart would not need to sign off on further changes to the enterprise zone. However, the state, which hosts the program, declared that any changes would need to go before them and that that they must also now sign off on any changes to the enterprise zone.

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Mahler said that we, Lincoln and Logan County, are the authority. Elkhart and Sangamon County have to know when we are changing the enterprise zone, but they cannot vote not to change it.

On another point of consideration, Mahler added that we should be considering the number of jobs that will be created in our decisions for enterprise zone additions. He reviewed past decisions and future plans, which mostly center on developments around Lincoln.

Mahler said that he and the Monsanto representatives would come back later in May or early June to formally make the request. It would first go before the Logan County Regional Planning Commission and next would go also before the city and the county planning and zoning committee.


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