The Collinsville City Council spent nearly an hour discussing the future of the Miner's Theater during a strategic council session before the regular council meeting Monday night.
The Collinsville Area Recreation District owns the historic building but has asked the council's permission to turn the building over to the Miner's Institute Foundation.
Under the agreement with the city, if the district gives up the building before retaining ownership of the building for four years, the district will have to reimburse the city 25 percent of the $235,000 in TIF funds it spent rehabilitating the building.
If the district holds on to the building for three more years, it can hand it over to the Miner's Institute without having to repay the funds to the city.
In December, the City Council discussed forgiving CARD the TIF debt and allowing the district to sell the building to the Miner's Institute Foundation for $1.
CARD Director Terry Wilson attended the strategic session meeting and told council members CARD board members refuse to spend any more money on the building.
The district still spends money to maintain and insure the building, but the board does not to spend any additional funds rehabilitating the building. The City Council has also told CARD it will not spend any more money on the building.
"I feel strongly that it's a good project and will be good for Collinsville, but, it's our board's decision that we can't fund it," Wilson said. "We just don't have the money. It boils down to two government agencies saying we can't afford it any more, so now what do we do with it?"
The district has spent a total of $1.5 million on the building, Wilson added.
"I've walked through it and it's a money pit," he said. "I don't know how else to say it. There's tons of work still to be done until it's even usable."
Councilman Nancy Moss and Councilman Michael Tognarelli expressed concern over the ability of the Miner's Institute Foundation to be able to raise enough money to maintain much less continue rehabilitation of the building.
"CARD just wants to dump it," Tognarelli said. "There has to be something in the middle that we can do. There is no way I would vote to let CARD walk away from the building right now. If we aren't going to spend any more money, then tear the damn thing down. That's the bottom line."
He suggested the council give the Miner's Institute Foundation a year to raise funds then reconsider allowing CARD to sell them the building and not be required to repay the city the TIF funds that were used on the building.
"If it stays in CARD's ownership for X number of years and we work with the new board of the Miner's Institute, I think that would be a better answer," Moss added."What if this foundation isn't able to raise funds and they fail and can't do anything with the building?"
City Manager Scott Williams reminded the City Council they have already indicated they will not approve spending any more money on the building.
"Let's give the foundation the opportunity," he said. "If they fail, they fail and it's a parking lot in 10 years. That's sad, but that's the way it is. I do not support spending another dime of city money on it, period, but that doesn't mean I don't care about what happens to the Miner's Theater."
By the end of the session Williams said he would sit down and talk with Wilson to find out if the CARD board would be amenable to some kind of compromise on the building that the City Council could vote on in the future.
Due to the length of the meeting, a discussion regarding the city's policy regarding nuisance property was postponed.
At the regular City Council meeting, the council approved the Police Department spending $51,054 on three Ford Fusion vehicles that will be unmarked vehicles used by the investigative bureau and administrative bureau of the department. Funds from the sale of older, less reliable police vehicles and the auction of seized vehicles will be used to purchase the new vehicles.
The council also approved a $119,054 contract with Midwest Municipal Supply, Inc. to provide materials for the water main extension project on Horseshoe Lake road and McDonough Lake Road as well as replace water mains on North Mulberry and North Guernsey and approved a three-year electric service agreement with Ameren Energy Marketing to lock in an electric rate for the city.
The current service agreement with Ameren expires in August. The new agreement is for three years.