Aledo TIF tapped for $200,000

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

Rex Johnson, managing member of GDC, LLC, formerly known as Green Development Group, LLC, appeared before the Aledo City Council Monday April 20, 2009 to request a $200,000 Tax Increment Financing grant for the group to help purchase the NW corner lot at the intersection of Ill. 94 and Route 17.

Johnson spoke to the council about the history of the LLC during a TIF committee meeting at the committee of the whole. The council later voted on whether to grant the request during the regular council meeting.

By a 5-2-1 vote the council agreed to the $200,000 TIF loan, with "Yes" votes coming from Aldermen Doyce Hiscocks, Dale Jones, Mike Frye, Marc Dicklin and Randy Mattson. Abstaining from the vote were Alderman Chris Hagloch and Robert Rillie. Alderman Rich Maynard recused himself.

In a Roberts Rules of Order move Alderman Mattson made a motion to reconsider. Mattson had earlier indicated he thought the council needed to hold off on the vote, since they had just received the information on it and hadn't had time to digest the project. A motion to reconsider can only be made by someone who voted with the majority.

"In the next meeting they can reconsider," said Alderman Rillie after the motion to reconsider was approved.

Johnson explained the grant was needed by the development group because a party approached him about putting up a building on a 3/4 acre lot at the corner next to a 4.17-acre plot owned by GDC, LLC. The corner lot is in part, located in the TIF district, but the 4.17 acres is not. The 4.17-acre area is also outside the city limits and will have to be annexed into the city.

Johnson told the council that his group was formed in late 2002 - to early 2003 and purchased the 4.17 acre property in 2003 where the IPLA hog market was located. "During the six to seven years we've owned it we made several attempts to purchase the actual Bud Henderson corner," he said. He said the group worked with commercial realtors who told them that development in the 4.17 parcel would be very difficult unless the corner was part of the parcel.

"There's no way we can pay Mr. Henderson for what he's asking for that property, without help from a TIF $200,000 grant ... to make this even close to feasible to my group," said Johnson.

Johnson pointed out that within 11 years the city would be paid back for the grant, due to increases in property taxes, plus starting development there would peak the interest of others to build out there.

"We all know that that's the gateway to our community," said Johnson. He said that development in that area would clean up the area, which could then be subdivided. He told the council that Attorney Karl Bredberg had already prepared an annexation agreement for the remainder of the property, including the 4.17 acres.

Johnson told the council, "Pam Myers (Aledo Main Street executive director) has told me there is another party that is interested in building out there," said Johnson. "We're taking steps to develop it," he added. "Think of what it can be 10 years, 20 years in the future."

He encouraged the council to "make a decision for the betterment of the community."

Alderman Mattson said he was concerned about "rushing it through,' wondering what the urgency was.

Johnson said the party wanting to build out there wants to start by June 1. "This offer (to purchase the corner lot) came to me a month ago. The purchase agreement - I finally got it this morning," said Johnson. "That is the urgency."

Rillie said that there is a 3/4 acre part of the corner that is in the TIF, but "the rest of the lot is not in the TIF."

"It looks like we're trying to slide something in," Mattson said.

Johnson explained that the land purchase agreement with Leo "Bud" Henderson has a drop dead day of May 21.

Newly elected Mayor Jack Doherty was asked his opinion. He said, "You guys have seen we've discussed this before. With the deadline you've got, you really don't have a choice but to vote on this tonight," he added.

Another upcoming alderman, Barry Cooper, was asked his opinion. "It sounds like an awesome idea," said Cooper.

Dick Hunter, another newly elected alderman, was at the meeting, but voiced no opinion.

Rillie pointed out they might not have enough votes, because a supermajority was needed to pass a funding commitment. "Five out of eight of us is what we need."

The motion to reconsider will take place at the next Aledo City Council meeting. The next regular meeting is on May 4, 2009 at 6 p.m.