Main Street seeks investment from county
BY BROOKS TAYLOR
Mt. Pleasant News
Main Street Mt. Pleasant isn’t looking for a dontation, but rather an investment.
Main Street Mt. Pleasant Director Lisa Oetken and several board members visited with the Board of Supervisors Thursday concerning next year’s contribution from the county. In the past, the county has given Main Street $5,000 per year. However, the group would like $10,000 in fiscal 2018.
“I know you give tourism $10,000, and I think Main Street Mt. Pleasant is just as vital as tourism,” Oetken told the board.
Board member Steve Brimhall said the supervisors should look at it as an investment rather than a donation. “Main Street is not a donation but an investment. I think this is a tremendous entity for Henry County. These properties are on the tax rolls. Investing in the downtown is a tremendous thing for all.”
Oetken presented a few statistics. She said that downtown Mt. Pleasant accounted for 8 percent of the total taxable sales in the county in fiscal 2015 and 10 percent of the taxable sales in Mt. Pleasant.
The Main Street director also said that in 2002 (when Main Street Mt. Pleasant was formed), the assessed value of Main Street properties was just over $21 million and the assessed value has increased by 32 percent to slightly over $28 million in the organization’s first 13 years.
Just three vacancies currently exist in the downtown sector, she said. Oetken said the city had 13 new businesses in 2015 and nine in 2016. In addition 54 upper-story housing units have been added in recent years with four more being added in 2017.
“We appreciate the support from the county,” Oetken stated. “Not all Main Streets (organizations) receive support from their counties. We feel we are a destination. We have tour buses coming here. While our Main Street used to be service heavy, we are now seeing more retail.”
Supervisors took no action on the request, which will be considered at budget time.
During the meeting, the board heard from several county offices.
Joe Buffington, county director of planning and zoning, said his office issued 78 building permits in 2016, compared to 62 the previous year. Of those building permits, 23 were for new houses (15 new house permits were issued in 2015). “Our numbers were up substantially over last year,” Buffington remarked. “In talking with Jack (Swarm, Mt. Pleasant building and zoning administrator), we noticed that quite a few new houses were being built in 2016.”
Moving to other agenda items, the county presented its initial contract proposal in negotiations with the Public Professional & Maintenance Employees (PPME). The union, which represents all employees in the sheriff’s office with the exception of the sheriff and chief deputy, presented its initial proposal Dec. 6, 2016.
In its proposal the PPME asked for an 8-percent hourly wage increase for deputy sheriffs, jailers, communication operators and the clerk. The union also asked for a 10-percent salary hike for the day sergeant, night sergeant, investigator/civil deputy, office manager, jail administrator and communications supervisor.
In its proposal, the county proposed a .5 percent across-the-board salary increase for those covered by the pact.
The union proposal asked for some changes in leaves of absence, vacation and additional compensation of 25 cents per hour for the canine officer.
The county proposed the current contract on leaves of absence, vacation and additional pay for the canine officer.
Regarding insurance, the union suggested health insurance coverage at no cost to the employee for all employees working an average of 29.5 hours per week. Current contract provides full single coverage for full-time employees.
Concerning the insurance benefit, the county is proposing full-time employees with health insurance at no cost to the employee. Employees electing dependent coverage would be required to contribute 20 percent of the difference between the single and family premiums. Currently, employees wanting dependent coverage pay 13 percent of the difference between the two plans.
All future contract negotiations will be in closed session.
In final action, the board approved the purchase of a Case IH tractor and a John Deere disk mower for the secondary roads department. The tractor will be purchased from J.J. Nichting Implement of Pilot Grove at a cost of $75,628.70. The cost includes a trade-in. Meanwhile, the mower will be purchased from Sinclair Tractor of Winfield at a price of $11,895.40.
The board meets again in regular session Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 9 a.m., in the courthouse.