The City Council will back a $3 million Resource Center project now that the agency has agreed to at least consider other sites in the city.
The council will vote next week on a resolution from The Resource Center with changed wording from the version the council saw Aug. 6. Mark Morton, director of program development for The Resource Center, returned to Monday night's Finance Committee meeting at City Hall to continue a discussion regarding a new health care facility.
In order to begin what Morton said will be a $3 million project, The Resource Center has applied for two grants. An Urban Initiative grant, if awarded, would allow up to $200,000 toward the project. However, the grant requires a municipal resolution supporting the Resource Center's application.
The land The Resource Center is looking to purchase is located on Harrison Street, next to Phoenix Metal Fabricating Inc. It is owned by the county Industrial Development Agency. At the Aug. 6 Finance Committee meeting, Morton presented a draft of the resolution, which resolved that the City Council of Jamestown is fully committed and supportive of The Resource Center's consolidated funding at the Harrison Street address.
Members of the committee expressed concerns about the location of the building at the Aug. 6 meeting before tabling the resolution.
SUPPORTING THE PROJECT, NOT THE ADDRESS
"I see that as one of the few, if only, remaining shovel-ready industrial sites. I'm not sure I like the arrangement that this would be, something that is totally tax-exempt," said Vince DeJoy, D-Ward 4, committee chairman.
On Monday, after discussion, the committee members agreed to present to the full council a revised version of the resolution, which would change the wording to express that City Council is in support of the project, but leaves out the Harrison Street address.
"Ultimately, we want to support the project," said Tony Dolce, R-Ward 2. "From our standpoint, we can't stop you from doing the project. The only piece of this that we're even involved with would be just a resolution supporting a concept of developing a center in the city."
Although DeJoy was unable to be at Monday's meeting, he sent a letter expressing his views on the project. In the letter, he said he would be supportive if The Resource Center would choose a site that is developed by a private developer where there would be a taxable property.
The Resource Center already owns an assessed value of $4,061,000 in tax-exempt properties. According to Joseph Bellitto, city comptroller, The Resource Center does not pay taxes on any of its properties.
"They make no payment in lieu of taxes to the city. None," Bellitto said. "All the properties that they own themselves are tax-exempt."
City taxes on the properties assessed value, at the current rate, would amount to $86,955.52 if they were on the tax roll. The assessed value of the three parcels for sale on Harrison Street is $44,100.
"It doesn't increase our tax base. It's a big concern. I think it's one of my chief concerns," DeJoy said at last week's meeting.
Morton told the committee Monday that The Resource Center will consider other locations for the project, and agreed that the new wording of the resolution should not affect the outcome of the grant.
"It's not that we're not willing to consider other locations. We are," Morton said. "We've looked at a number of other locations. We're not that far down the road that we wouldn't consider other locations."
DeJoy also expressed his disappointment in the way the resolution was brought up to the council.
"I am deeply disappointed that the TRC didn't meet with city officials to properly plan such an important project in an appropriate site well in advance of this grant application," DeJoy wrote. "It demonstrates a total disregard for the city's interest which are one in the same as the people that live and pay property taxes to the City of Jamestown's interests."
Greg Rabb, D-At-Large and council president, echoed DeJoy's concerns at the meeting.
"At no point did anybody ever come to me as the president of this body to ask us for our support," Rabb said. "We found out indirectly, and then we get a resolution in front of us after the application has been submitted. I have problems with that procedure."
Morton told the committee that The Resource Center was unaware of the process to get a resolution passed and believed it was going about the proper procedure.
City Council will hold its voting session at 7:30 next Monday, at which time it will decide the outcome of The Resource Center's resolution.