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Council hears report from IDA, approves budget

There has been a change in the industrial development landscape.

During the Sept. 28 Farmington City Council meeting, Farmington IDA Executive Director Marlene Brockmiller and IDA President Chip Peterson addressed some of those changes – and the work the board is doing to adapt – to the members of the council.

Peterson said the two were invited by Farmington City Administrator Greg Beavers to give the council an update on the work of the IDA.

Brockmiller said most recently, the board began working towards the changes in industrial development by putting together a strategic plan, with short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.

“We are diligently working on those,” Brockmiller said.

Peterson said idea of developing the strategic plan was for the IDA board to “evaluate what we (as a region) really are…our infrastructure strengths and weaknesses, what do we have as far as internet capabilities, infrastructure and let’s see what’s needed out there and how we fit.”

The board most recently worked through the Missouri Partnership to have a Community Competitiveness Assessment on Farmington. A representative from the partnership visited the community, playing the role of an industry looking for a community.

Brockmiller said the assessment involved putting together information on the area, plus a site visitor from the consultant.

Peterson said the person performing the assessment “finds locations for industries…a real strong player.”

He used the analogy of a “three-legged stool” – bringing together community services, retail and industrial development.

“We need to make sure we have homes…make sure we have all those assets with medical (services) and school. If we just keep developing retail and we don’t get new jobs…we’ve got to get new jobs to the area,” Peterson said.

The two said they were pleased with the score received. The assessment showed an overall community visit score of 161 out of 200. Farmington was one of seven communities participating in the assessment program.

Two areas that stood out on the assessment are the need to develop sustainability programs within the community – programs using renewable energy and other systems.

Another area addressed by the assessment was the need for branding – something Peterson sees as an opportunity to include what is available county-wide for future industry growth.

Brockmiller said the IDA board has also helped tenants in the industrial park whenever a need arises.

“(The industries) feel like they have an advocate in the IDA,” she said.

Peterson said he has worked with a number of mayors since his time on the IDA board.

“It is really a good working model,” he said.

Beavers said the membership of the IDA board is “second to none” and represents all sectors of the economy.

He noted the challenge of today is the tech-related industries desire to locate around suburban areas.

“In addition, the economy has been difficulty the last several years,” Beavers said. “(The IDA board) works through those challenges.”

The IDA is made up of 11 directors on a governing board. Appointments to the board are made by the city mayor, with each appointment lasting for a six-year term. The board consist of industrial leaders, bank presidents, and a variety of other community leaders. In 2003, a change in the by-laws made it possible for a person to be appointed after living in the county or city for only one year. Previously a potential member had to be a resident for five years prior to serving.

An IDA is not a public entity, although board members are appointed by the city’s mayor. It acts independently of the city and taxpayers. It cannot levy taxes, impose fees or charges, but can issue bonds, borrow money and do other kinds of activities to encourage economic development (such as own and lease buildings). The group pays also taxes.

The Farmington IDA was formalized and chartered in 1981.

The council also approved the fiscal year budget during Monday’s meeting.

“It is a very robust budget for the city,” said City Administrator Greg Beavers. “We’ve got a lot of nice improvements going on around town…some good street improvements we’ll be undertaking, a lot of good equipment replacements that the city needs to continue to operate. We are really hoping we can provide a really high level of service to the folks that live here, work here and play here.”

The total budget revenue is just over $44 million. Beavers said the city is projected to spend $45,737,000.

“That $1.7 million in deficit, so to speak, are carry-overs from this year’s budget that were unexpended,” he said. “We will continue to end this year with good reserves.”

He noted one fund always “struggling” is the sewer fund due to the high cost of maintenance on the system and revenue not provided through the sewer rates.

“All-in-all, we’ll end 2016 in a very, very sound financial position,” he said.

The council approved the new budget by a vote of seven to one. Ward I Councilman Larry Forsythe casting the lone “nay” vote on the two ordinances dealing with budget issues – one for an amendment to the 2015 operating budget and the second for the adopting of the fiscal year budget.

The council also approved a change in the water rates. The rate change was necessary to reflect the cost in dealing with radionuclides. The rate increase will range from $1-$3 a month, depending on water use.

Council also approved the rebuilding of the 2007 Pierce firetruck pumper at a cost of $389,300 – about 60 percent of the cost of a new pumper.

Farmington Fire Chief Todd Mecey explained the truck is taken apart down to the frame and rebuilt with brand-new components and electronics.

The truck will be back in service around April or May of 2016.

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