Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Council Receives Update from Economic Development Corporation

by Kevin Surbaugh

The last city council meeting of the year met on Monday night, December 19, 2016. In public comments, Josh Ediger asked if there was any headway on getting first street paved.City Administrator Glenn Rodden, said there has been some talk with the township discussing some kind of joint effort to pave First Street. Eventually, both sides of First Street will be in the city limits.  Rodden said, that right now it is a matter of money, but something should happen in the Spring.
In a special presentation, Hank Booth from the Baldwin City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), said the EDC is currently working with ten to twelve prospective businesses in Baldwin City. He said that it was to early to announce who they were or the type of businesses they might be.
Booth touted some of there successes over the past year, including Homestead Kitchen, which recently opened in downtown Baldwin City. The Baldwin City Gazette, which they are working with the local editor and his wife to be very successful, and encourage everyone to send their news items to and help support with advertising dollars.  In addition, they have been working with a new Certified Public Accountant (CPA) that is expected to open in June of 2017.
The EDC also has some interest in a possible brewery on the highway. Booth said, that there has also been interest in another gas station, that a location is being sought out, and hopefully will materialize in 2017.  In addition the EDC seeks to work with the council to establish a "Buy Baldwin City First" policy in 2017.
As for housing development, there are currently ten homes listed in the community currently along with seven lots. The EDC is actively working with developers and builders to create inventory of available lots and new homes to reach a goal of 30 new homes sold in Baldwin City each year.
Working with Baker University officials is another aspect of the EDC. Seeking out how the community as a whole can help Baker achieve its own stated goal of 1000 students on campus.
Dave Hill, Board Chairman of the EDC, said that continuations of half price building permits would help encourage more construction in the city. "If we are going to build thirty homes per year," Hill said, "we are going to have to have developers come in."He suggested another way the city could consider, to help attract those developers, is a down payment assistance program. Offering $10,000 per home. In the past they had great success with a $20,000 program. However, Hill said looking back, he wishes they had done 10,000 then and did 20 homes rather then ten at 20,000.  Timing is key, Hill said, if we want anything to happen in 2017 we have to put these incentives into action.

In other business:

  • The council unanimously approved resolution 2016-23 an investment policy to help get better rates with the bond rating company. It is a policy required by state law.

  • Heard from Public Works Director, Bill Winegar, told the council that they have completed a soil survey and site layout in preparation for the new public works building.  Winegar, said that he had received he had just received the results from the soil sample, and hadn't had time to look at it, but didn't expect to find anything they weren't already expecting. There were no underground tanks or anything of that nature to cause concern.
  • 1 comment:

    1. Here are the answers to the “real” question about the Baldwin City Economic Development Corporation that weren’t asked or answered in the article.

      The BCEDC is a “private” entity. It is owned by private individuals. It’s membership just happens to be mostly people who participate in “business ventures” together as a group or funnel business to each other in town.

      What isn’t mentioned are all the businesses in Baldwin City who refuse to join the organization or those that have asked that their names be removed from any membership listing in the past 3 years. Why are substantial, well-known financial institutions and businesses missing or removed from the membership list?

      The BCEDC exists mainly to enhance the business activities and profitability of the small list of interconnected members of the corporation.

      Taxpayers should NOT be sending $15,000 of city budget money to pay salaries for the BCEDC. No one I’ve encountered knew this was happening and when they learn of it they become extremely angry.

      Fifteen thousand dollars taken from the city utility department budget to pay for the BCEDC staff at a time when utility costs are rapidly increasing to pay for a new maintenance building.

      The last thing Baldwin City needs is a “used car lot” along Highway 56. The city has enough problems with poorly kept properties on the highway and in residential parts of town. Selective enforcement of city codes has left some areas of the city looking like inner-city ghettos. Finally, city staff seems to agree on a topic with residents.

      The “real” story here is the insider, crony dealings being facilitated with taxpayer’s money and facilitated by elected city officials.


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