City Council Reviews Package to Retain Southeastern Container

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Published on April 17 2013 12:00 am
Last Updated on July 14 2013 4:07 pm
Written by Greg Sapp

Effingham City Council members Tuesday reviewed a package designed to keep Southeastern Container in town.

The company that manufactures bottles for Coca-Cola has been in Effingham for close to 20 years, but was considering a relocation.  The City, County, State, and Effingham County Economic Development Foundation and the landlord of the building in which the business is located developed a package to keep the business in Effingham.

The City offered $100,000 and four years of property tax abatement totaling another $92,000.  The County is offering the tax abatement and the State and Foundation are helping financially while the landlord developed a new lease.

In exchange for the incentives, Southeastern Container has pledged to retain the 42 jobs now in Effingham and to create 12 jobs over the next two years as well as to guarantee they'll stay in town through the end of their new lease.

The package should be finalized within the next month.

Council members voted to allocate $25,000 to the Effingham County Cultural Center and Museum Association to help pay for the ongoing conversion of the old Courthouse into a museum and cultural center.  City Administrator Jim Arndt said the contribution would be for one year and said the Association is welcome to seek additional contributions in subsequent years.  The money will come from hotel/motel dollars, not property tax revenue.

The Council heard from John Schimmelpfenning who spoke on behalf of veterans who have expanded the County Memorial on the lawn of the old Courthouse.  Schimmelpfenning asked for additional funding that would help pay off the renovation costs, cover the cost of adding names to the memorial, and help with maintenance and upkeep at the memorial.  He did not seek a specific amount.  Council members were asked to share their thoughts on the matter with Arndt, who will come up with a recommendation.

Council members passed a budget for the fiscal year beginning May 1 totaling $78,274,900.  The measure includes $13 million for capital projects and purchases.  Also approved was an ordinance establishing pay ranges for non-union City employees.  The ordinance contains no pay increase.

Council members created a 15-minute parking space on the east side of Banker south of Jefferson Avenue; issued a liquor license for Formaggio Pizza on South Banker; contracted with Vandevanter Engineering for lift station preventive maintenance at sites around town; and contracted with R.E. Pedrotti Company for upgrades at lift stations around town that will allow notification of city officials when problems occur at a site.

The Council adopted a schedule for developing next fiscal year's budget; approved a five-year capital improvements plan; agreed to close a portion of a street for Legacy Harley-Davidson's State Harley Owners Group Rally on June 7 and 8; and hired Wente Plumbing and Heating to make repairs at the Waste Water Treatment Plant.

With the start of the City fiscal year May 1 came the appointment Tuesday of individuals to a number of boards and commissions.  Here's the rundown: Kim Arndt and Lisa Kingery to two-year terms on the City Ethics Commission; Dave Storm to a new three-year term on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners; Greg Kemper, Rob Macklin and Robert McGee to new three-year terms on the City Plan Commission; Jim Arndt to a new two-year term on the Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund; Rob Macklin to a five-year term on the Zoning Board of Appeals; Jim Arndt and Suellen Reimers to new three-year terms on the Helen Matthes Library Board with one term still open as Jane Wise decided not to be reappointed; new three-year terms for Jennifer Hinterscher, Richard Beatty, Dave Ring and Dan Wormhoudt on the Tourism Advisory Board with one term still open as Jody Puckett resigned from the Board; and Stephanie Rieman to a new three-year term on the Human Relations Board.  City Commissioner Brian Milleville abstained from the vote on Rieman as she is his girlfriend.

Council members approved an amended Downtown/Southtown Business Area Redevelopment Program agreement with Tara Flaig for exterior improvements to her downtown location.  The cost of the project is $36,943, with the City paying half the cost.  The Council also discussed a proposed $1,000/month agreement with Ancel Glink as special legal counsel for the City.

Arndt said he's waiting for State input on the legalities before making a recommendation on a funding request from the Effingham County Economic Development Foundation; reminded that Law Day this year is set for May 2; announced that the Council meeting on May 7 will be preceded by a special session at 6pm for Mayor Merv Gillenwater's State of the City address; and shared that his fourth quarter financial report will be offered at the May 21 Council meeting.