Paxton motel to get reimbursed $85,000 through TIF district

PAXTON — The Paxton City Council voted 6-0 last week to approve a redevelopment agreement with Paxton Hospitality Inc., a company that owns the Paxton Inn immediately west of Interstate 57.

While a new hotel is being built nearby by Cobblestone Hotels & Suites, a number of improvements have been made recently to the Paxton Inn and the motel’s parking lot, Mayor Bill Ingold said.

Paxton Hospitality Inc. has requested reimbursement through the city’s tax-increment financing (TIF) district for some of the work completed, Ingold said. The redevelopment agreement reimburses the company up to $85,000 over the remaining life of the city’s TIF district, reflecting about 55 percent of the tax increment revenue to be generated by the city in that time period through increased property taxes paid on the property, Ingold said.

The reimbursement specifically is for concrete work done to the motel’s parking lot, Ingold said. Other improvements — such as new carpeting and televisions in the motel’s rooms — were not included in the reimbursement request, Ingold said.

Abstaining from the unanimous vote at last Tuesday’s meeting was newly appointed Alderman H.J. Flesner. City Attorney Marc Miller had advised council members prior to the vote that anyone who owns property in the TIF district should abstain from the vote as well as the discussion about the redevelopment agreement.

Flesner was sworn in at the start of the meeting along with fellow aldermen Susan Satterlee, Bill Wylie, Rob Steiger and Mike Wilson. Also taking their oaths of office after being re-elected in April were Mayor Bill Ingold and City Clerk Gwen Smith. Not taking his oath last week was newly re-elected Alderman Bob Jones, who was absent.

Other business
Also at last week’s meeting:

➜ The council approved a proposed “cooperative arrangement” between the city and Steve, Jacqueline, Gary and Tammera Glazik — the developers of land west of the interstate where the new hotel is being built. The arrangement was related to the planned extension of a water main that would be owned by the city and serve the hotel and surrounding to-be-developed area. Ingold said about 1,900 feet of water main needs to be installed, spanning from Industrial Park Drive to Technology Lane. The Glaziks suggested that they pay for the $18,000 in materials needed and allow the city’s public works department to do the work, which they would reimburse the city to complete. Ingold suggested that the labor reimbursement be made at the hourly rate for which city workers are paid, multiplied by 1.2. Alderman Rob Steiger, however, questioned whether the hourly rate would be enough to cover all of the city’s labor costs, including employee benefits. After some discussion, the council agreed to have Public Works Director Mark LeClair and Comptroller/Treasurer Julie Burgess come up with an average hourly rate for the employees who would be working on the project. The average rate would cover all costs — benefits included — that are paid to the employees, and the rate would be reflected on an invoice sent to the Glaziks.

➜ Ingold presented aldermen with committee assignments, with the following aldermen assigned to chair the following committees: Wylie (finance and budget), Steiger (public works), Wilson (public safety), Jones (city property), Linda Glad (license, permit, zoning and insurance), Pacey (community), Flesner (economic development) and Satterlee (longterm planning). Wylie was also appointed to represent the council on the city’s joint-review board for its TIF district.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve 3 percent pay raises for the city’s six non-unionized employees, retroactive to May 1, the start of the 2017 fiscal year. The one-year raises affect the salaries of Police Chief Bob Bane (current base salary of $56,018), Police Capt. Coy Cornett ($45,047), Public Works Director Mark LeClair ($63,861), Assistant Public Works Director Jeff Ingold ($42,748), Utility Billing Clerk Heather Haile ($31,467) and Comptroller/Treasurer Julie Burgess ($51,105). The raises will cost the city about $9,704, the mayor said.  The 3 percent raises reflect the same percentage increase granted previously to the city’s unionized employees for the upcoming fiscal year, Burgess said. The unionized employees’ raises will cost the city about $13,880, Burgess said.

➜ The council unanimously approved an amendment to a loan agreement with Gibson Area Hospital. City Attorney Marc Miller said the agreement was originally approved in 2011. Miller explained that hospitals get “beneficial tax treatment” if they are participating in a loan agreement with the communities they serve. While the city is a party to the agreement, Miller noted that “the loan agreement itself doesn’t create any obligations for the city whatsoever” — financial or otherwise. The reason for the agreement being amended, Miller said, was that some terms of the loan were changed.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve the city’s intention to obtain a $500,000 loan from the First National Bank in Paxton. The funds would be paid back over a period of up to five years with 3 percent interest. The only other loan proposal received was from Busey Bank, which offered a $498,381 loan at an interest rate of 2.6 percent to be paid back over a seven-year period. The first payment to First National will be due July 1, 2018. The loan will being in enough funds to complete the re-painting of the city’s two water towers, plus a variety of work related to maintaining the city’s wastewater system. In order to pay off the loan within five years, the council voted unanimously last week to raise the debt-service fee listed on each bimonthly water bill by $8.59 — from its existing level of $26.16 to $34.75 — starting with bills sent out June 1. The additional cost over five years was estimated at $257 per water meter.

➜ The council voted unanimously to approve painting the city’s water tower downtown to match the colors on the newly painted water tower on the city’s west side. With “PAXTON” shown in blue lettering on its yellow-painted bowl, LeClair said the newly painted west-side tower “looks awesome.” The west-side tower also depicts PBL Panthers paw prints going up its stem. The downtown tower will look identical, except it will not feature paw prints, LeClair said. Originally, the council had planned to paint the downtown tower differently than the west-side tower, but aldermen agreed last week with Alderman Rob Pacey’s assertion that matching the two would be a good idea to create some “consistency with our image and with our branding.”

➜ The council approved a series of resolutions allowing the city’s public works department and the Farnsworth Group, a Champaign engineering firm, to proceed with $154,600 in road repairs this summer. The roads to be repaired are (with the estimated project costs in parentheses): 229 feet of North Market Street, from Walnut Street heading north ($7,400); 337 feet of American Street, from Orleans to Patton streets ($12,900); 320 feet of Cherry Street, from Orleans Street to 260 feet south ($15,700); 416 feet of Spring Street, from Orleans to Patton Street ($15,000); 567 feet of Fall Street, from Patton Street to Eastview Drive ($25,200); the Franklin/American Street intersection ($7,700); 412 feet of Orleans Street, from Market to Taft streets ($55,800); and 381 feet of Union Street, from Franklin Street to Ottawa Road ($14,900). Not to be repaired this summer, due to budget constraints, were two other projects under consideration: the repair of 412 feet of State Street, from Taft to American streets ($44,900); and the repair of 320 feet of North Market Street, from Oak to Chestnut streets ($30,500). The work will be performed using motor fuel tax (MFT) revenue. Burgess said there were $155,000 in MFT funds on hand, with $115,000 more still expected to be received from the state this fiscal year.

➜ The council unanimously approved the annexation of a residential property at 1004 Stockholm Road on the city’s eastern edge. Attorney Bob Martensen of Paxton was present on behalf of the property’s owners, Wendell and Lois Frette. Martensen said the city’s public works director, LeClair, was agreeable to the annexation into city limits — and LeClair said the city’s infrastructure would be able to support hooking up the property to the city’s water and sewer systems. Martensen added that the annexation meets all of the requirements.

➜ LeClair said inspections of the bridges at Holmes Street and Pells Street over the Canadian National Railroad tracks resulted in the bridges’ condition ratings being downgraded. LeClair said the inspections revealed “hairline cracks” on both bridges. The Pells Street bridge was built in 1999, while the Holmes Street bridge was built in 2010. Wylie asked LeClair if he believed enough money was being budgeted each year to maintain the bridges. “Personally, I think it’s a little light,” Wylie said about the funds being set aside each year. “And you’re probably right, because who knows what’s going to happen down the road if we do have to fix a sidewalk (on the bridge) or the railings fall over or something like that, which has happened in the past,” LeClair responded. “That’s not cheap work to do. So it might not hurt to start adding just a little bit more (to the fund).” Wylie also asked whether LeClair believed any major repairs would be needed anytime soon. “I don’t think they’re going to be deteriorating that much,” LeClair responded. “Here lately, we’ve had some decent winters where we’re not putting a lot of salt down on them like we normally do. ... I think we’ve still got at least another good 10 years before we have to start looking at it.”

➜ LeClair informed the council that he had authorized United Paving Corp. to complete an additional $13,500 in work on Holmes Street. The additional work ended up pushing the Holmes Street widening/resurfacing project’s budget to $36,500. The council, however, had only authorized LeClair to spend up to $23,000 on the work. Because the approval of the additional work was not listed on last week’s meeting agenda, the council was unable to authorize it formally. However, council members agreed that it would be no problem to have the work done. They made plans to approve the work at the June meeting.

➜ The council voted unanimously to authorize the local American Legion Auxiliary to distribute poppies in return for donations at the intersections of Patton and Market streets and Pells and Market streets at a date to be determined in May.

➜ Alderman Rob Steiger warned his fellow aldermen that, at some point in the future, some work needs to be done to the pavilion at Pells Park.

➜ Ingold said he was among the volunteers who participated in a community cleanup day spearheaded by the Paxton Area Ministerial Association in early May. Volunteers spent a Saturday morning removing weeds from Majestic Park, Pells Park and Bixby Park. “We had two or three people stop us (the following day) and tell us that they thought the parks — especially Pells Park and Bixby Park — were being very well kept up by the city, as far as limbs, brush, that kind of stuff, and as far as trash, as well,” Ingold said.

➜ The council held a public hearing on a proposal to reduce the number of members on the city’s zoning
board of appeals, from seven to five, before unanimously approving the measure as a way to make it easier to maintain a quorum at the board’s meetings.

➜ The council instructed a representative for Chicago-based Mobilitie to draft a proposed contract for the council’s approval in June regarding the telecommunications infrastructure company’s proposal to install a 75-foot utility pole in the city’s right-of-way that would feature technology to expand the wireless data infrastructure in town. In February, a Mobilitie representative told the council that the company would like to install the utility pole on a vacant lot on the west side of Washington Street near Prospect Street by Glen Cemetery on the city’s south side. The pole would feature “small cell wireless equipment” that the representative described as “pretty new technology.” The council asked that the contract include language requiring the company to pay the city an annual fee of $2,500. The city, in turn, would enter into a licensing agreement with Mobilitie authorizing the pole and its accompanying technology to remain standing for an initial five years, with the option to renew every five years for a period of up to 20.

➜ During a discussion about potentially revising the city’s transient merchants and solicitors ordinance, Police Chief Bob Bane noted that the city has been seeing “ongoing problems with energy companies coming in (to town) and going door-to-door without registering (as a solicitor with the city’s police department).” Bane said that if the council decides to change anything in the ordinance, aldermen should strongly consider adding some type of “penalty phase” for repeat violators. “Today at 4 o’clock,  we had somebody we kicked out (of town) a week ago come back to town again, not doing what they’re supposed to be,” Bane said. Changes to the ordinance are expected to be discussed at a yet-to-be-scheduled committee meeting.

➜ The council reviewed the results of a community survey that asked residents to rate the services provided in Paxton and prioritize projects for the future. 
The response from the community was that some of the
most important priorities are to address blighted properties, improve the downtown, focus on economic development, and improve the streets and sidewalks, Alderman Rob Pacey said.

➜ Wylie asked the mayor to consider making him a part of the city’s negotiating team when negotiations resume with the city’s unions in the future.

➜ LeClair said a leak was discovered in the roof above the council chambers at City Hall.

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