Despite concerns expressed by constituents following a public hearing on Jan. 17, Springfield City Council members last night voted unanimously to modify the Hickory Hills Marketplace Community Improvement District to exclude 16 acres planned for a regional home-improvement store.
At the Jan. 17 council meeting, a representative from Eau Claire, Wis.-based Menards said the company would bring 150 jobs to town at Hickory Hills Marketplace provided council exclude it from the CID developer Paul Larino helped establish in April. Menards operates a chain of 262 stores in 13 Midwest states.
Both Councilman Doug Burlison and Councilwoman Cindy Rushefsky said they fielded concerns from constituents that the bill to alter the CID around the former Hickory Hills school could encourage other large employers to ask to be kept out of similar taxing districts.
Burlison said, however, that excluding some companies from increased levels of taxation could be a way to keep and bring jobs to town.
“I believe it does set a precedent, but I see the value of exempting increased taxation on certain businesses,” Burlison said. “I think that’s a point we missed on Commercial Street.”
Rushefsky asked Economic Development Director Mary Lilly Smith to explain the difference between Larino’s district and the Commercial Street CID that was established in 2008 to fund services to maintain improvements in the historic district.
Smith said the city worked with people living and working in the Commercial Street area to find ways to fund improvements they saw as necessary to attract businesses and customers and increase property values. And in that case, a majority of residents believed a CID was the best way to maintain improvements funded through the establishment of a tax increment financing district. Smith pointed out that with the Hickory Hills Marketplace CID, Larino is the sole property owner. He asked the city to establish the district, and he was asking the city to change it, she said.
“I actually think Larino is taking a big chance here,” Rushefsky said. “Now, he is asking new people to come in and bear the price."
For more on the latest Springfield City Council meeting, look to the Feb. 3 digital edition or the Feb. 6 print edition of the Springfield Business Journal.[[In-content Ad]]