LB840 funds allocated for two projects


Of the Herald

While the votes were not unanimous and there was considerable debate, two entities will be receiving LB840 funds following action at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
The first request came from the Wayne Country Club and the second from the Wayne Event Center, Inc.
The LB840 Citizens Sales Tax Advisory Committee had recommended to the council that the Country Club be awarded a $100,000, five year loan with an interest rate of three percent. The request from the Country Club was for a $100,000 grant and a $100,000 low interest loan.
Country Club board members were on hand to explain to the council that they had visited with the LB840 committee and told them they would not be comfortable with a loan that would require more than $1,000 in monthly payments.
Money would be used for a $425,000 renovation/addition to the Club House. This project was originally discussed last year but the project has been scaled back somewhat.
Kevin Peterson, secretary of the Country Club, said that while the original request was for a $100,000 grant, he was "okay with a larger loan for a longer time frame, but I would like to negotiate the interest rate."
Council members said they had concerns with the fact that the project may not create any new jobs. However, Country Club Board members said that the project would bring people to Wayne where they would spend money, generating sales tax revenue.
The Country Club is currently conducting a fundraising campaign in hopes of raising the majority of the money needed for the project. After two weeks of fundraising, more than $100,000 has already been raised.
Discussion was held by the council on the impact of the city taking ownership of the club house and repayment of the loan.
Council member Cale Giese said  he did not want to see any money given as a grant and felt that if the city owned the club house, they could use city money rather than  LB840 money, of which there was only a limited amount.
"This is madness, the amount of money we are giving out, when there is only a finite amount available," Giese said.
Council member Jennifer Sievers made a motion to offer the Country Club a $150,000 loan at zero percent interest for 15 years. The request was approved on a 6-2 vote with council members Cale Giese and Jon Haase voting against it.
Country Club Board member Rusty Parker told the council that if the current fundraising campaign does not reach its goal by Dec. 31 of this year, the project will not move forward. However, he felt that with the assurance from the council that LB840 money would be available, donors would be more comfortable in their giving.
Another request for LB840 funding came from the Wayne Area Event Center, Inc. to build an event center along Highway 35, north of the golf course.
Josie Broders spoke to the council on the possible uses for the event center, including weddings, craft fairs and college events.
"This is work in progress and there is a ton of potential for what events the center could be used for. I have already had a number of brides, some from other towns, call and ask about it. This facility would bring people to town and they will spend money while they are here," Broders said.
She said a purchase agreement has been signed on the property and she would like to see construction start next spring.
Council member Matt Eischeid expressed his frustration with the use of LB840 funds and questioned how money has been distributed in the past.
"Some of the money has been given out as grants, other as performance-based loans and some for infrastructure. Is there any type of follow-up on whether the people who have gotten the loans are creating the jobs they are supposed to? Also, why do we have a committee making recommendations to us (council) if we are changing our minds? Eischeid said.
Also discussed was the possibility of annexing the property into the city and the costs associated with providing water and sewer services to the area.
Following considerable debate, the council voted 6-2 to award the Wayne Area Event Center a $350,000 loan for 10 years at an interest rate of three percent.
Council members denied a recommendation from the LB840 Sales Tax Advisory Committee for a $5,000 grant for its role in administering the Wayne Area Economic Development program.
Discussion was held on whether the money should come from the LB840 fund or another source.
In other action, the council approved the memberships of two new firemen for the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department. Two Wayne State College students - Corey Blum and Autumn Breazile - have already been trained as EMT and sought out membership with the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department.
Council members tabled accepting a bid for the 2016 Lagoon Sludge Removal & Application Project. Council members questioned the cost of project, which was considerably higher than the engineer's estimate.
Council approval was given for temporary use of the state highway for the annual Christmas on Main Celebration/annual Parade of Lights on Thursday, Nov. 17. The Wayne Area Economic Development Office also requested that parking be prohibited on Main Street in the 200 Block of Main Street for the event.
Several change orders were approved on the Main Street Water Main Improvement Project, including additional dirt work, boring a bank and additional miscellaneous fittings.
A payment of $283,749.48 was approved to Rutjens Construction for the Main Street Water Main Project.
The council will next meet in regular session on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.