The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Retail money leaking out of Southern Illinois

  • Harrisburg City Council welcomed back Finance Commissioner Ron Crank to Thursday's meeting.
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  • Harrisburg City Council welcomed back Finance Commissioner Ron Crank to Thursday's meeting.
    Crank has had a short absence since his surgery for a brain tumor in April, but appeared none the worse for wear Thursday.
    "It's so good to have councilman Crank with us. That's a lot of prayers and prayers answered," Mayor Eric Gregg said.
    "Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers," Crank said.
    While the meeting began on a cheerful note, the tone changed as University of Illinois Extension Educator Susan Odum summarized a recent retail MarketPlace Profile report she and Senior Account Manager of the Office of Regional Economic Development Kim Watson recently completed. The report from 2010 data indicates the southern 16-county area is experiencing a $272 million total retail trade leakage from people shopping in neighboring states. Saline County alone is experiencing an $18,536,019 retail trade leakage, she said. That is not as much retail trade leakage as what neighboring, less populated counties, are seeing, but Williamson County is seeing a retail trade surplus of $140,198,604 and Jackson County is seeing a surplus of $67,238,392.
    "Money is flowing out of your economy into another economy," Odum said.
    Western Indiana is enjoying a retail trade surplus of $208 million and western Kentucky has a surplus of $329 million. Eastern Missouri is also seeing a high surplus.
    "What that really tells me is we aren't spending our money in Southern Illinois and people in the neighboring states aren't coming here. If we don't shop here why would they?" Odum said.
    Odum said Harrisburg has an opportunity to turn the situation around. Shopping locally keeps money in the region which means the region has an opportunity to grow as neighboring regions have grown.
    "I feel that this study demonstrates a need for a call to action," Odum said.
    Golden Circle
    After having had Gregg sign a proclamation declaring May to be Older Americans Month with members of the Saline County Senior Citizen's Council prior to the meeting, member Otis Reynolds asked council if they would donated the water and sewer hook up for the new Golden Circle building that will be on Veterans Drive. The old center was destroyed in the Feb. 29, 2012, tornado. The ground breaking is next week, he said.
    While council members asked Water Superintendent Kelly Hefner to determine the exact value of the hookups — Hefner estimated it would be $5,000 to $6,000 — Crank bristled at the request. He said the city worked to get the Golden Circle $400,000 in grant funding and the Golden Circle purchased land from the county instead of the city. He does not believe it is in the city's interest to provide any more favors.
    "Harrisburg worked hard to get over $400,000 to put that out there and you bought from the county instead of us. That's why I'm against it and will vote against it," Crank said.
    Page 2 of 3 - Reynolds said the senior citizens council was frustrated with the tedious process of working with the city, believed it was "getting the run around" and believed the new building would get done more quickly through working with the county.
    Gregg took exception.
    "No one was trying to give you the run around; we were trying to follow proper procedure," Gregg said.
    Council members said they would not make a decision until they had a cost figure from Hefner.
    "It's very hard for us to give taxpayers' money away, even though it's for a worthy cause," councilman Ron Fearheiley said.
    TIF consultant Keith Moran of Moran Economic Development in Edwardsville answered questions from the city and Saline County Board members regarding spending money from Harrisburg TIF District No. 1 which has reached the end of its allotted 23rd years of existence.
    Harrisburg intends to spend the remaining money on road and utility project in the north part of town and improvements to the sewer system. The improvements involve an agreement with the county board to extend the Leberman Drive and Ford Street area on Saline County property. The county agreed as that would open a piece of county land to development in exchange for a portion of county land to the city for development. The county agreed, voted to go along with the project, but last week rescinded the motion due to concerns over the legality of spending money on new projects after the 23 year mark has ended.
    Moran said the city indeed has until Dec. 31, 2014, to spend the money, can spend it on as many new projects as the TIF can afford, can even spend it on creating a new TIF district and can spend the money whether or not any of the other taxing bodies approve.
    He said the city must pass an ordinance adopting a piece of legislation from 1999 that permits spending TIF money the year after the TIF expires since that is the year the property tax arrives. He described the ordinance as a piece of "administrative clean up." He said the when initial legislation regarding TIF passed, it did not address the subject of taxes in the final year of the TIF. The law allowed for only 22 years of tax increment collection for a 23-year TIF.
    Moran said the TIF generates $760,000 per year and beginning in 2015 the county will begin receiving $94,000 more in taxes than it does now and the school district will receive $337,000 more.
    County Board member Joe Jackson said the county is not opposed to TIFs, only the procedures.
    "The county board is not against TIF. My issue is the legality of continuing after the stop date March 7, 2013," Jackson said.
    After much discussion, Crank expressed irritation.
    Page 3 of 3 - "We thought we'd help by putting a road in for you, but if you don't want it, we'll spend the money somewhere else," Crank said.
    Jackson said he supports the road project as long as he is assured it is properly done.
    Water tank damage
    Workers have begun the process of sandblasting the Dorrisville water tank on Barnett Street. Engineer Jim Brown said once inside it is evident there are holes in through the tank and the support beams are twisted.
    The twisted beams are consistent with the type of damage that might be expected from a tornado.
    "It could have been lifted up and set back down," Brown said.
    Fearheiley suggested if the Feb. 29, 2012, tornado was responsible — the tank was in the tornado's path — it could qualify for an insurance claim.
    "They were not like that the last time we were in there, I can assure you that," Brown said.
    Brown estimated replacing the top of the tank with the holes in it and the 33 roof beams would cost around $200,000.
    Council asked Hefner to confer with the city's safety officer and insurance consultant Bill Ghent to determine if an insurance claim is appropriate.
    Council has been approached by Baby Huey's Recycling from Mattoon about accepting materials for recycling June 1. Everything from home appliances and electronics to automobiles will be accepted. Council agreed.
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