The Ottawa City Council Tuesday, placed on file a new agreement with Invenergy, developer of the Grand Ridge Wind Farm, in regard to the expansion of the regional enterprise zone Ottawa administrates. The zone runs east along the Illinois River into Grundy County.
The benefit to Invenergy would be an exemption to state sales tax on construction materials. Under the original agreement, Ottawa stood to benefit from a fee equivalent of up to 20 percent of the sales tax savings.
Under the proposed agreement, Ottawa’s share will drop to 10 percent with the other 10 percent to be divided up among fire protection agencies in the expanded enterprise zone area.
Commissioner Dale Baxter opposed the change since it cut the city’s minimum potential revenue from $1.5 million to $750,000.
“By passing this, we are going to cost the city of Ottawa, in one month’s time, $750,000,” Baxter said. “From my viewpoint there’s no reason we should do that.”
Baxter said the suggestion the city is to be the first responder in the case of fire or ambulance needs is incorrect – that it was only to respond with other departments as it normally would in any mutual aid situation.
“I have no problem with the other local entities reaching their own negotiations with that company – they have every right to do so and I wish them luck.
“But Ottawa has done it already, has reached that agreement, and I see no reason why we should give half of it away. My job is to argue for the citizens of Ottawa, and I’m not willing to vote to give $750,000 at a minimum back to that company when they’re going to benefit by millions of dollars themselves.”
Commissioner Ed Whitney said the agreement did specify Ottawa was to respond, a provision that has been removed.
“I know you don’t like losing the money. I don’t like losing the money and I think we can work on that. But I don’t think the public health and safety of this community and our citizens should be up for sale.”
A vote on the agreement is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Additionally, the council voted unanimously to approve a boundary agreement with Marseilles.
Eschbach said the agreement will have two benefits. First, it will prevent developers from playing one city off against another for annexation incentives. And second, it will allow the cities to advance plan for infrastructure improvements.
At a public hearing on the agreement there were no comments.
By Charles Stanley
21 November 2007
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