By Vinde Wells
A Polo alderman voiced opposition Monday night to a request from a local business that is expanding.
Alderman Randy Schoon said he is not in favor of entering into a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District redevelopment agreement with PNC, Inc., a longtime Polo manufacturer.
PNC officials are planning a 100 by 100 foot expansion of their building on East Oregon Street.
The estimated cost of the addition is $1 million, and the expansion is expected to bring 25-30 new jobs to the community.
The firm, which makes custom electromagnet solenoid coils and wiring harnesses for the automotive and hydraulic industry, has two locations in Polo. The other building is on East Mason Street in the downtown.
Mayor Doug Knapp said the proposed agreement with PNC calls for 60 percent of the real estate taxes generated from the expansion to go back to PNC for the remainder of the TIF district, which is 17 years.
The remaining 40 percent would remain with the city in the TIF Fund.
“I just don’t understand it,” Schoon said. “This is money we don’t get back.”
City Clerk Susie Corbitt explained that the revenue in question is money the city does not currently receive.
She said the revenue affected would be the real estate taxes only on the new construction. The taxes PNC currently pays would not be involved.
Corbitt said that under the proposed redevelopment agreement the city’s 40 percent would amount to $133,000 in new real estate taxes over the 17 years.
Alderman Cheryl Galor said that if the council does not approve the agreement, the city would receive the full amount of the taxes on the expansion, rather than only 40 percent.
Alderman Louise Hall said the agreement is a way to promote growth in the city and encourage businesses to located there.
“The way to help Polo is to get some land for people to build houses on,” he said.
“You aren’t going to bring people to Polo unless we have businesses,” Hall said, pointing out that PNC would be adding jobs.
Schoon said he doubts that the expansion will mean as many new jobs as PNC officials have estimated.
Besides that, he said the jobs will be so low-paying that the people who have them will not be able to afford to buy or build a house.
Schoon said some of the TIF District decisions made by the city council in the past have been unwise and have ended up costing the city money.
He also complained that the whole city council weren’t included in the negotiations with PNC officials.
Corbitt said the actual negotiations were confidential, and that she distributed the information to all council members as soon as it became available.
She reminded Schoon that she did answer his questions when he came into her office.
Schoon replied that Knapp should be distributing the information, not Corbitt.
Knapp replied that Corbitt has a better understanding of TIF Districts.
“I tried to help you understand it,” Corbitt said.
“I don’t need to understand it,” Schoon replied. “We need to have order here.”
Schoon also protested that he had little input into the discussion and that other aldermen had already made up their minds to approve the agreement.
“I already know this is going to pass. It doesn’t matter what I think,” he said.
“I don’t see the downside of this that you see,” said alderman Matt Mekeel.
Aldermen Troy Boothe and Dave Ackeberg voiced their support for the agreement because it would bolster business in the city.
The city council is expected to vote on the redevelopment agreement at its Aug. 4 meeting.