City Council Expected to Vote on Park Board Request for Funds August 19

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Published on July 29 2014 6:34 pm
Last Updated on July 29 2014 6:35 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

The Effingham City Council is expected to vote on an Effingham Park Board request for $1 million in funds at their meeting on August 19.

The Park Board is seeking the funding from the City to help pay for some of the cost of the Richard E. Workman Sports and Wellness Complex, proposed for an area near Evergreen Hollow Park. The request for funds from the City came after bids for the project came in substantially over the architect's estimated cost.

Council members shared their opinions on whether the money should be given toward the project during a special meeting Tuesday.

Commissioner Alan Harris said a non-binding referendum held when the City was considering a similar project indicated a majority of those who voted were against the project and so he will vote against allocating any funds.

Commissioner Brian Milleville also said he would vote against allocating any money, saying the City's donation of the land to the Park District as the site for the facility, and architect expenses when the project was considered by the City, is enough of a contribution.

Mayor Merv Gillenwater, who ran against the City building the facility in 2011, now says the business plan developed for the complex's operation by the Park District has convinced him it is feasible and said he'd vote to allocate the funds.

Commissioner Don Althoff ran against the project in 2011 and again maintained a commitment needs to be seen by the architect firm toward the project since the project came in well over their estimated cost, but officially Tuesday said he was undecided as to how he'd vote. McDevitt was asked whether the architect firm, Holabird and Root, was going to contribute toward the project. He said, "They are considering it."

Commissioner Matt Hirtzel didn't offer any comments Tuesday, but has said in the past that he supported the project in the past and continues to support it.

The money from the City would come from hotel/motel tax revenue. City Administrator Jim Arndt ran the numbers since the last Council meeting and said the City could do $250,000 this year and $250,000 next year. The current Council has been hesitant to make long-term commitments on certain projects because it otherwise obligates the Council to be elected in 2015.

Milleville will miss the Council meeting on August 5 and so the vote was delayed until the meeting on August 19.

The vote on the 19th comes past the August 6 deadline for the current bids on the project. Rather than re-bid the project, McDevitt said they are talking about extending the bid deadline and looking to do so if it's possible.

The Park Board continues to modify the project plans to reduce the cost, continues to seek private contributions, and has been given a commitment by Dr. Richard Workman to match additional contributions up to another $1 million over his initial $5 million commitment. Even so, there is a shortage in available funds, leading to the request for a contribution from the City.