Economic development letter raises questions

toulonAt the monthly Toulon City council meeting on Monday, a letter from the Stark County Economic Development Partnership (SCEDP) informed the mayor and council members about a possible favoritism issue and effectiveness of the SCEDP.
Director Dennis Rewerts informed the city council, via the letter, that “some members of the (Toulon) board have doubts about the effectiveness of the Stark County Economic Development Partnership.”  In defending the SCEDP, Mr. Rewerts cited two examples of businesses which have begun operations in Toulon (in approximately 8 years of SCEDP existence).  These two businesses are the Toulon Market and Aunt Martha’s Health Clinic.
Mayor Collins stated, “I’ve always wondered what the scope of the SCEDP is and its direction,” in response to the letter’s content.  Mr. Rewerts continued in the letter answering the favoritism issue, “I have heard people feel I have taken businesses to Wyoming.  This is untrue.”
After council members discussed the letter, Mayor Collins said, “I’d like to see a clarification of this letter from Mr. Rewerts.”  Several ideas were approached until council member Larry Hollis suggested, “Invite Mr. Rewerts, President Mike Bigger and Secretary-Treasurer Doug Parrott to the next meeting.”  An invitation to invite the SCEDP to the next council meeting in September was agreed upon.
A Tax Increment Financing (TIF) request was submitted by Ms. Kellie Gerber of The Gerber’s Daisy in the amount of $14,600.  Plus a 50% payment of $4,400 in past expenses was requested to be paid by TIF immediately, which would be subtracted from the $14,600 amount.  This is a second TIF request by Ms. Gerber, the first amounting to $6,578 of which 50% was approved for pay out to aid Ms. Gerber in establishing her new business in Toulon.
Both the second request and the expense payment were approved by the council.  The $7,300 was approved but, withheld presently, while the $2,200 is payable immediately.  With this funding Ms. Gerber stated “I believe I can be open for business in time for the Fall Festival.”  Council member Misty Turnbull suggested that the council have a TIF meeting and better structuring in place to avoid some confusion which occurred during the council meeting concerning TIF requests and percentages of payments.  TIF currently carries a balance of $25,088.
Mr. Greg Peterson of Bruner, Cooper & Zuck, Inc. addressed the council concerning the streets’ seal-coating project in Toulon.  Pavement Maintenance Service, Inc. from Henry, Illinois was low bidder at $22,718.56 (3.5% below estimate), while two other bids were slightly higher than the estimate.  The bid from Pavement Maintenance was approved by all members of the council and seal-coating Toulon’s streets could begin as early as September.
In committee reports: streets & alleys – the alley behind Nelson’s auto lot will be repaired when possible; parks- research is required in replacing the City’s park pavilion; cemetery- tree planning is in the preliminary stages, and the owner of the property of the burned house directly across from the cemetery will be notified to abate; police- the police dept. will fill out their work schedule and submit to the Sheriff’s office.
The sewer project at the Stark County High School is near completion and only a few items are required to finish out the job.  The Methodist Church sidewalk will be installed once the remainder of the church’s retaining wall is completed.  No action was taken on the Congregational Church’s request to convert the empty lot at N. Henderson and Thomas Streets into a parking facility.  The council decided that the church representatives should provide a plan for drainage in accordance to the City’s drainage ordinance before action is taken.

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