Belleville council OKs $3.1 million loan for police department project

News-DemocratJune 16, 2014 

The Belleville City Council voted to approve several proposals on Monday related to the city getting new police headquarters, including a $3.1 million loan and a development agreement.

Aldermen authorized Mayor Mark Eckert to sign a loan up to $3,185,000 from the First National Bank of Dieterich at a rate of 1.2 percent for a term of up to two years.

The loan will allow the city to buy 720 W. Main St. and an adjoining piece of land where the city plans to move the Police Department and build a parking garage for officers.

The council also voted to hire WM Financial Strategies as the financial advisor and Gilmore & Bell, P.C., as bond counsel for the project.

On the motions related to the loan and advisors, Alderwoman-at-Large Lillian Schneider voted no and Ward 3 Alderman Kent Randle abstained.

One of the tenants of 720 W. Main St. that will be displaced by the new police station is the Bank of Belleville. The bank plans to build and move to a new facility at 213 S. Illinois St.

On Monday, aldermen voted to approve a development agreement with the bank.

Schneider and Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult voted no. Randle abstained.

The agreement related to this Bank of Belleville project include incentives that amount to about 11 percent of the total cost to build the estimated $3.4 million bank headquarters.

The city agrees to provide the following:

* A rebate of half of the site's incremental property taxes up to $272,000 for seven years or until the expiration of Tax Increment Financing District No. 8, whichever occurs first. The incremental taxes are estimated to add up to $38,800 annually.

* Sales tax abatement of building materials for construction amounting to $60,750. The cost to the city is $13,125 if the construction items are all purchased in Belleville.

* Reimbursement of up to $50,000 in TIF funds after the completion of demolition and asbestos abatement.

* The city also agrees to participate in a 50/50 sidewalk program for work along South Illinois and West Harrison streets; resurface the remaining part of the alley between West Lincoln and South Illinois streets; and provide 32 parking stalls for the bank within a one-block radius.

Schneider said she voted against the agreement because the mayor has failed to provide information on each element of the project before asking aldermen to vote on individual pieces of the project.

For instance, the agreement calls for the city to provide 32 parking spaces but the city has not determined a location for these spots and it's unclear if the city will have to spend more money to fulfill this clause, Schneider said.

"It's their business; They should take care of it," Schneider said.

Eckert said he and the city attorney are working on the parking issue and believe it is "doable" without "some gigantic cost to the city."

Eckert said the parking details should not stop the city from approving the bank incentives so both the police station and bank projects could move forward.

One of the sites being considered is a lot off Lincoln Street, behind the proposed bank, that city employees use for parking, Eckert said.

Eckert said the lot is used by many police officers who would be parking at the new station once it is built.

Hult said she voted against the agreement because the city's participation, 11 percent, is too high in relation to the project cost.

The bank expects construction to begin this fall and be completed the summer of 2015.

Earlier this year, city leaders approved spending $3.1 million to buy the building at 720 W. Main St. and spending $85,000 to buy land next to the site to build a parking garage for the Police Department. The estimated the cost of retrofitting the Bank of Belleville building for Police Department headquarters is expected to be about $7 million.

Also on Monday:

The council voted 14-2 to spend $4,234 to add more security cameras at City Hall after an East St. Louis resident allegedly left an envelope containing a white powder for the mayor.

Officials were concerned it was anthrax, but the substance was powdered sugar.

Police Chief Bill Clay has said he already was recommending additional cameras that will give investigators more footage and viewpoints of any suspects in future incidents before the disturbance occurred on April 7.

Ward 1 Alderman Ken Kinsella said that the cameras will protect the mayor but he also believes the additional equipment is a "wise investment" because, as employers, the city also has an obligation to keep all city employees safe.

Hult and Schneider voted no.

Hult asked Eckert why he didn't notify aldermen in April if the incident posed enough of a security risk to warrant additional cameras. Eckert said the incident was reported in the police blotter and he was asked to keep mum until the police investigation was completed.

King S. Burrow, 46, faces misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges related to the incident.

Contact reporter Jacqueline Lee at jlee@bnd.com or 618-239-2655. Follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BNDJLee.

Belleville News-Democrat is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service