Montgomery business 'talking points' presented : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Montgomery business 'talking points' presented|
|Staff asks board to clarify position on rebates, other incentives|
|by John Etheredge|
To help improve the Village of Montgomery's efforts to attract new businesses, the village's staff has asked the village board to clarify its position on several economic development issues, including the use of sales tax rebates and the waiver of fees for new businesses.
Village President Matt Brolley said the economic development issues will be on the agenda for discussion during the board's next committee-of-the-whole meeting set for Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m.
During a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation last week, Jamie Ludovic, assistant village manager, presented the board with what she described as "talking points" for further discussion. Those talking points included:
•Should the village establish parameters for sales tax rebate agreements that would be used by village staff and the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) when meeting with prospective retailers?
•Should the village waive fees for commercial projects?
•Should the village establish a grant and/or façade improvement program for businesses?
•Should the village establish performance indicators or guidelines to measure the effectiveness of the MEDC?
Brolley said he believes it is important for the board to "set the parameters for staff and the MEDC going forward."
For example, Brolley said it would be beneficial to village staff and Char Coulombe-Fiore, MEDC executive director, to know up front whether the board would support a sales tax rebate agreement for a new business.
"It would be good for them to know that from the start," Brolley said, adding, "I think it's good for us to set the tone on it."
Ludovic noted the board has previously approved sales tax rebate agreements to secure the development of a Wal-Mart, JC Penney, the Ogden Hill shopping center and Sam's Club.
She noted the terms of the agreements vary, but the amount the village rebates to the retailers has often gone to pay for public infrastructure improvements necessary to construct the new stores.
Ludovic said it would be beneficial to village staff and the MEDC if they knew the board's position on sales tax rebates.
"We would have a general idea that, yes, this is something our board would entertain or, no, this is something our board would not entertain," she said.
Ludovic noted that village staff is not recommending the village waive engineering, building permit, impact or other fees it currently charges for new developments. She noted the village charges the fees to cover the costs "associated with doing business."
"We think we have good fees and in most cases people seldom balk at the fees," she said.
Ludovic described the MEDC as the village's "biggest and most valuable" economic development tool and said she believes the village continues to benefit from working with the agency and Coulombe-Fiore.
She noted that part of Coulombe-Fiore's role is to attract new businesses and promote expansion of existing businesses.
"She is the one who is designated to guide the businesses through our plan review processes," Ludovic said.
As an example, she noted that Coulombe-Fiore worked with Butterball officials recently on a $25 million expansion of their plant on Baseline Road.
"Char (Coulombe-Fiore) was their first point of contact," Ludovic said of Butterball officials. "She worked with them to secure a loan from our revolving loan fund and to utilize state incentives."
To make the MEDC even more effective, Ludovic suggested the board could help the agency "better articulate" the village's business attraction priorities.
"We haven't done a great job of having that dialogue amongst ourselves to determine this is what we want the MEDC to focus on," she said.
Ludovic also proposed the board could establish "performance indicators" for the MEDC.
She noted the village is already investing a "significant amount of money" in annual dues to the MEDC and should do a better job of communicating with the other members of the agency's governing board.
Ludovic noted the board might want to consider implementing a grant program to assist local businesses improve the exterior facades of their buildings and update village building codes.
Board member Doug Marecek questioned what the village is doing to help existing local businesses.
Jeff Zoephel, village administrator, noted he and Ludovic have been meeting with local business owners as part of the village's "Business Boost" program established last year.
Brolley said the MEDC also works with existing businesses.
"I think one thing the MEDC does very well is keeping an open dialogue with our existing businesses-I've noticed that," he said.
Marecek said he is concerned the village is not working enough with its existing businesses while it continues to work on creating a TIF (tax increment financing) district to attract new businesses to the village's Orchard Road corridor.
He compared the situation to a cable television company offering deals to attract new customers while continuing to charge their current customers at higher rates.
"It concerns me how we're going to approach that and sell that," Marecek said.