By: Diane Benjamin
One item on the agenda for last night’s Bloomington City Council meeting was originally on the consent agenda, but it was moved to the regular agenda prior to the meeting date. Why it was ever on the Consent Agenda, where an alderman would have to pull it for discussion, is a question that wasn’t asked. That was not the place it ever should have been.
The City wanted to give incentives to a business which relocated to the old Wildwood property over a year ago. The first incentive was to provide money to take down a “derelict” water tower. It was referred to as derelict many times by the Community Development Director, Bob Mahrt. If it was painted with the company logo, some might consider it charming, but city code doesn’t allow that! Instead it’s deemed derelict.
It doesn’t matter the company bought the property with the water tower. It’s their small water tower, they bought the property knowing it was there, it was their job to leave it alone or pay to have it removed themselves. The City is not telling them to take it down. Instead the City is:
giving them $40,000 when estimates are $27,000
But the City isn’t done. The company wants another entrance off Mercer. That would require paying tap on fees of $80,000. the City decided to discount that by $48,000.
Commercial Packaging has been in business over 35 years. It employees around 40 people, that number will not increase because of these incentives. Bob Mahrt said taking down the water tower was purely for aesthetics and maybe future growth. A property to the north also received reduced tap on fees.
Nobody is against new uses for abandoned properties, but this company bought it over a year ago. Mahrt admitted these incentives are not “needs based” when asked by Alderman Bray. Alderman Schmidt reiterated that point by stating she though the economic development plan was “but/for”, meaning the project wouldn’t happen without incentives. Alderman Painter chimed in to asked why these incentives weren’t ironed out over a year ago. Mahrt spins it as now they are renovating the office, so this is new.
Everyone will be paying more in taxes so this business that didn’t need the money could get it. How many votes did this buy?
Just hit play to hear Bray, Schmidt, and Painter. Buragas follows stating this encourages existing businesses. How many didn’t get incentives Amelia, and how do you justify your discrimination against them?
The final vote was 7-2 with Schmidt and Painter voting no. They all should have.