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Sales tax drop hits city, Decatur EDC

By Kristen Tribe | Published Saturday, February 21, 2015
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Decatur City Manager Brett Shannon shared sad sales tax news at Thursday’s meeting of the Decatur Economic Development Corp.

The total sales tax allocation to the city for the month of December 2014, which was reported in February, was $377,412, an almost $70,000 decrease from the same month the previous year.

“There was $35,747.56 of audit collections that were taken out for some reason,” Shannon said. “I don’t know what it was. Obviously, somebody got a rebate. That’s a pretty big hit.”

Mayor Martin Woodruff said the audit collections are not uncommon, but usually it’s $1,000 to $2,000.

“I don’t know if it’s due to the price of energy going down or not quite as much Christmas shopping done as in previous years … whether it’s more online sales than in-store sales. I don’t know,” Shannon said. “The bottom line is it’s down.

“Historically, this allocation is the largest check of the year due to the Christmas season and annual filers,” he said. “Hopefully we won’t get hit by any more audit adjustments of that magnitude.”

Director’s report

Executive Director Mary Poch said despite a valiant effort, it was not going to be possible to get a natural gas line to Imperial Fabrication on U.S. 380 east of Decatur.

The company needed the line to run a large powder-coating machine.

“It was going to cost half a million to $850,000 to build a gas line, and even then it was still questionable if it would be enough for them,” she said.

Jay Davidson said even with the abundance of natural gas in the county, “we learned how restrained we are to provide gas …”

Poch also reported that the business appreciation dinner will change to a bi-annual event as part of a business expansion and retention program.

She said Ida Mae Burnett has moved up into a business retention and expansion role in addition to her duties as an administrative assistant for the EDC. As part of the program, Poch said quarterly meetings would be held with upper management retail, professional and industrial sectors.

“It will have a three-part focus – retail, professional and industrial,” she said. “You kind of have to walk through it and tweak it as we go, but the overriding concern [of the program] is to support the businesses that are already here.

“What I’ve found in getting that group together is it’s an opportunity to network and share,” she said. “We’ll start those and then next year do the big dinner.”

She also noted that she received 10 inquiries in January, but since most of them required large buildings, of which there are none available in Decatur, she was unable to respond.

She also said H2X president Michael Clark, who’s in Colorado, sent a letter in late November requesting additional financial assistance because rent at their local facility is higher than anticipated. Poch told him the EDC was not allowed to give a company money for rent, but they might be able to assist the business as it expands.

Poch also told the board that she plans to have a new aerial map made.

“The last large aerial map was in 2010, and I like to redo that every five years,” she said. “We’re using the company that we used before. I want to focus more on the airport area and on specifically three to five different sites where we can zero in on where we want some development to happen.”

In other business, the board approved updating the EDC bylaws and creating a code of ethics.

At the end of the meeting, they spent an hour in executive session discussing Project Splash, Project Blue Sky, Project Landslide and Project Sidekick, but took no action on any of those items.

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