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Council OKs up to $96,000 to help buy land for Mueller project in Decatur

Council OKs up to $96,000 to help buy land for Mueller project in Decatur


DECATUR — The city will give Mueller Water Products up to $96,000 to buy three acres on the north side of Decatur that will be part of the land for a new foundry.

Council members Tuesday voted 7-0 to provide funds for the land owned by Norfolk-Southern Railroad. The site is in the 2700 block of North Jasper St. and is adjacent to a tract already obtained by the company, according to a memo to council. 

Mueller, which was founded in Decatur in 1857 but now based in Atlanta, announced plans for the state-of-the-art project in August. The company said up to 250 jobs will work at the site, which totals about 30 acres. 

Mueller currently has two facilities in Decatur related to the manufacture of water and gas transmission products. 

The project is in the city enterprise zone, allowing for sales tax exemption for construction materials.

The council on Tuesday agreed to pay $32,000 per acre, for a maximum of three acres, or $96,000, representing partial reimbursement of Mueller's acquisition costs of the land. The money will come from the city's Economic Development Fund.

"The city of Decatur was a key part of this deal," City Manager Scot Wrighton said. "This is what is necessary in order to get the property fully under the control of Mueller."

Wrighton said Norfolk-Southern officials weren't aware they owned the parcels and hadn't been paying property taxes for more than a decade. It used to be part of the  Terminal Rail system.

He said council members told him they supported the incentives, but city officials couldn't talk publicly about the arrangement until now because the cost was being negotiated. Title issues and the gap between the property's fair market value and the values assigned to it by the railroad created acquisition problems that the city ultimately resolved by agreeing to make a cash contribution to bridge the gap.

"Given the long-term importance of Mueller Co. operations to the city of Decatur and the history the city has in assisting Mueller Co. with their local manufacturing operations," Wrighton said in a city document, "the mayor and city council have agreed to provide this development incentive because it will better secure the company's place in the local economy." 

Mueller currently has a foundry on Garfield Avenue that makes water and gas transmission products and a manufacturing foundry on Eldorado Street. 

Other business

The city council also approved in a 7-0 vote on Tuesday a $5 million contract with SAK Construction. The Missouri company was the lowest bidder on the McKinley Sewer Rehabilitation Project followed by five others, the highest offering over $9 million. An engineer estimated the project to cost nearly $8 million.

The project is to to make sure sewers aren't outdated and have enough capacity. 

SAK Construction has completed sewer lining projects for the city in the past including the Lake Shore Drive Rehabilitation Project, the Seventh Ward Sewer Rehabilitation and the 2015 Trenchless Long Lining Repairs Project. 

The project is contingent on Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approval.

The construction and spending for two bridge projects was also approved by the council on Tuesday. The city will contract with AECOM Technical Services Inc. to repair the West Mound Road bridge over Stevens Creek and the Grove Road bridge over Sand Creek, an arm of Lake Decatur. 

State motor fuel taxes will fund both projects; the West Mound bridge repairs will cost about $30,000 and the Grove Road bridge will cost $18,050.

Public Works Director Matt Newell previously said the city usually receives around $2 million in state motor fuel tax revenue and an increase of about 60 percent is expected this year due to the gas tax increase this summer. The city is also planning to use an estimated $4 million in motor fuel tax revenue for the wide-ranging Brush College Road project

Contact Analisa Trofimuk at (217) 421-7985. Follow her on Twitter: @AnalisaTro


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