Discussion was held on the Ralls Enterprise Corporation building during the City of Vandalia’s Board of Alderman meeting held last Tuesday.
During the meeting, Interim City Administrator Debbie Hopke told the group that in August of 1996, the City entered into an agreement with Ralls Enterprise Corporation (REC) for the purpose of REC constructing a building in the Industrial Park. REC would offer the building for sale and as soon as the building was conveyed and sold and transferred from REC to a third party, REC would pay the city the sum of $15,000.
The $15,000 would serve as consideration for the conveyance of the property to REC from the City.
The building, known as the “spec” building, has been marketed by REC and the City of Vandalia since its completion.
In recent years, the sale price of the building has been adjusted to reflect current market values. With the recent sales price reduction, REC has asked the City to consider waiving the land transfer fee.
Lynn Hodges, CEO of REC, was present for the meeting and said since he’s been manager that there has been no serious interest in the building until now.
“We have a very serious prospect now,” he added. “…It is a significant reduction in the original price of the building…We’re just asking that with the prospect of these jobs coming in and he’s already talking about building on and doing some expansion with it…”
Hodges’ request was for the city to waive the $15,000 land transfer fee as REC’s Board of Directors were willing to cut their losses and move on in the discounted sale of the building.
With the additional services that REC could potentially offer the Vandalia residents in the future, i.e. electricity, fiber optic cable (high speed internet, television, telephone), plus maintaining a positive relationship with REC, staff recommended consideration of waiving the fee with the potential of gaining an occupant in the “spec” building.
Information regarding the prospect cannot be released, as it would be their announcement to make. There is talk of expanding the facility, and some jobs could be provided with the transfer. The use of the facility would be light manufacturing.
Hodges noted that since 1996, REC has paid $82,000 in taxes and about $35,000 for insurance for that building.
“On top of the price and construction, we’ve also paid those fees as well,” Hodges noted.
It was noted that the land around the building is owned by REC.
Alderman John Weiser asked about advertising cost on the building done through the years.
Alderman Weiser also noted that the city isn’t receiving anything but potential and giving away $15,000.
Hodges noted that the building was originally listed at $309,000 and REC is selling the building for probably $.30 on the dollar.
Hodges said if the gentleman doesn’t buy the building, he asked the city if they were going to give him acres across the road to build the building and he said the city would likely make that deal.
The item was tabled. Mayor Kuda reminded Hodges that the council makes the decision.
“We’re going to push through with this in the end, it’s just we don’t want another $15,000 of loss at Ralls County Electric when we feel like we’ve built a lot of standing with you.”
Alderman Bob Dunn said he would like a potential number of jobs or employees that could come to Vandalia in the deal.
Hopke said some towns have work session meetings that were held on items that need to be discussed. This conversation came as a result of a Special meeting held May 2. Sometimes the work sessions are held prior to regular meetings to allow time for maintaining transparency to the citizens and providing accurate information to the board.
Like regular meetings, the meeting agendas would need to be posted and the items would be for discussion only.
Staff would be involved and provide information.
After discussion, the group agreed to have more discussion at the regular meetings instead of scheduling a second meeting or a work session.
Alderman Doug Bontz noted the importance of having time to discuss agenda items like the Demolition Program to brainstorm different ways to get things done.
A copy of current city code referencing the demolition process was provided. Review of this program and any changes will take time and careful review before implementation.
After discussion, the possibility of an advisory committee appointment was proposed.
Alderman Bontz noted how such a committee would take some work off of city staff and empower local citizens to be active in the effort. Staff will research legalities for that committee.
Interim City Administrator Debbie Hopke told the group that as requested during the April meeting, staff was to explore additional language for a possible ordinance to regulate animal feces on public or private property.
Sample wording from cities for council review and possible action was provided. The cities polled were adamant that any regulations are hard to enforce and would require a police officer to view the animal or a citizen to sign a written complaint that they saw the offense take place.
Although no wording indicates an allowance for special events—i.e. pet shows, parades, etc.—language could be included. Additionally, all samples include the word “animal” as opposed to naming a specific animal.
The group agreed that they would like to see an ordinance proposed including all of the ideas combined, with the addition of an exception for parades.
Citizens to be Heard
Patty Kraft spoke to the group with concerns about cats in her neighborhood. Kraft asked about programs that would allow for a trap and release. Kraft intends to speak to local veterinarians who might be able to help with this program.
Donnie Ingram also noted that they have issues with cats near their residence.
Gary Willis asked about the status of getting lights in the Tri-County Park. Staff was asked at the Special meeting last week to get prices for the lighting and those prices have not been obtained as of last week’s meeting.
Minutes from both the April 10 and May 21 meetings were along with the Accounts Payable were approved.
Council approved a measure to authorize Mayor Kuda to execute Amendment 001W15708409 to the Supervised Institutional Work-Release Program Agreement. City Clerk Karen Shaw told the group that the amendment was provided by the Department of Corrections.
The only change with the amendment is the effective date, which is extended until September 29, 2017. Hopke noted that there will be an ad in this week’s Vandalia Leader regarding the replacement of electric meters during meter reading this month. The utility department will be replacing any of the old meters with the new digital meters, so that all residents have the same type of meters.
City Attorney Amy Rost told the group that she has information regarding the MML training for newly elected officials. Anyone interested in going should turn in their paperwork to Karen Shaw so that reservations can be made.
There was no action taken on informational items discussed.
At 6:20 pm, Alderman Dunn moved to adjourn from Regular Session. Alderman Bontz seconded the motion, which carried unanimously.
-Some information taken from drafted meeting minutes.