County considers urban renewal plan
Jefferson County Board of Supervisors heard engineers Melanie Carlson and John Meyer of French-Reneker-Associates today outline the timing of priorities about establishing an Urban Renewal Plan for the Heartland Co-op project.
Heartland Co-op CEO and general manager Tom Hauschel and Todd Phillips, executive vice president of grain and risk management, told the board a month ago of its interest to build a 4.4 million bushel capacity grain storage elevator compound and rail shipment operation in the county, a $25 million investment Hauschel had said in December.
The company has already acquired 162 acres that border Nutmeg Avenue and Highway 34. Of that 162 acres, 150 acres will remain as agricultural land, only 12 acres will be devoted to grain elevators, roads for trucks and the facility’s rail siding in the first phase.
Part of the project would include upgrading Nutmeg Avenue from Salina Road to old Highway 34 as a concrete road, and the same for Osage Avenue, because semi trucks will use those two roads as routes to the elevator. Truck traffic from the north will cut across 185th Street or a similar road, which also would be upgraded for semi traffic.
The intersection of Salina Road and Pleasant Plain Road will get straightened out to a T-intersection for safety.
Previous Fairfield Economic Development Association Executive Director Tracy Vance said Heartland Co-op is asking the county to make these road improvements, at an estimated cost of $3.725 million.
He recommended a Tax Increment Financing district to pay for bonding. TIF captures tax revenue for specific purposes.
“The 162 acres will continue to be taxed just as it is now, and that property tax will continue to go where it goes now into the county fund and school district fund,” Vance said in December.
“The TIF will be on the new capital improvements, the new facility, which has been estimated at an assessment of $14 million. We take that property tax, about $338,000 per year, which is new money and doesn’t disturb the old money one bit, and use it for debt service for 10 years,” Vance had explained last month.
Today, Carlson said the first step is to draw up an Urban Renewal Plan with the help of Marsha Cory, a partner in the municipal consulting firm of Simmering - Cory Inc. and Iowa Codification Inc. in Clear Lake. Cory is experienced in coordinating of codification services, grant writing and administration and the preparation of Urban Renewal and Urban Revitalization Plans and amendments, according to the firm’s website.
“You’ll want to include how you’ll use the district, how debt will be incurred and outline the boundaries of the district,” said Carlson. “The Urban Renewal Plan requires estimates of improvement costs.
“The plan needs to be in place for tax increment to be taken,” said Carlson.
“We’ll probably need extra right-of-way areas for the road being included for improvement,” she said.
“I recommend sending all initial plans through a public hearing, and you’ll need to have a meeting with the school board and city council,” said Carlson.
The county, Fairfield and Fairfield Community School District each receive property tax money from the area to be improved.
“If you have the public hearing and approve the plans, then the tax increment can be captured, even if you don’t have all the details worked out,” Carlson told the supervisors. “It’s how the city did the TIF for Pilot Grove Savings Bank. As details become known, you can go back and amend the plan.”
Supervisor chairman Dick Reed asked if the county could use the same survey of the area for the road improvements.
Carlson said yes, it can, but the road improvements don’t require a land survey.
Reed said the supervisors are hiring French-Reneker to be the local communication and surveyor on the project.
Reed also asked Supervisor Lee Dimmitt, who was chairman of the board last year, to continue as the board’s point man on the Heartland project, and Dimmitt agreed.