Archived Story

Ameriwood investing $641,000

Published 9:36pm Monday, August 23, 2010

By JOHN EBY

Dowagiac Daily News

Dowagiac City Council Monday night called a Sept. 13 public hearing on Ameriwood Industries’ application for a 50-percent tax abatement on a $641,000 investment in new equipment and building improvements.

City Council previously adopted a policy by which the amount of money invested, total jobs created or retained and annual payroll are taken into consideration when reviewing Industrial Facilities Exemption Certificate (IFEC) applications.

City Manager Kevin Anderson said Ameriwood’s application scored a 12, making the 202 Spaulding St. furniture manufacturer eligible for a 12-year abatement.

Years seven through 12 of the abatement would require annual documentation that original criteria continue to be met.

Anderson reported that this new investment will contribute $2,312 in new taxes for Dowagiac and an additional $1,654 for other taxing entities.

State law requires three council actions on IFEC applications: calling a public hearing, conducting the public hearing, then taking action.

In other Aug. 23 business, council authorized the sale for $30,000 of city-owned property at 225 S. Front St. to the Cass County Council on Aging (COA), represented by Executive Director Bob Cochrane, board President Eleanore Flowers and board member Ben Bement.

The COA submitted a $30,000 bid to purchase the property at the July 26 meeting.

The offer remained on the table a required 21-day period to see if there were any other interested buyers.

The COA “plans on making very significant structural and facade improvements to the property,” Anderson commented. “Based on the long-term anchor that an organization like the COA will provide to the downtown, this is the stronger offer for this property than the first offer presented to City Council.”

Sale conditions include: $30,000 cash “as is”; contingent upon a phase one environmental study and roof analysis; and purchaser paying any and all closing costs.

The COA board July 13 approved the offer intended to enhance its programming level on the western side of Cass County.

“Our intent is to completely remodel both the interior and exterior of the facilities to support (COA) programs, including fitness, congregate dining, social programming and adult education,” Flowers and Cochrane wrote in a July 20 letter to the city.

Council also gave final approval to the ordinance revision sought by downtown merchants to change parking hours in the central business district from two hours to three.

Within the next 90 days, Dowagiac anticipates delivery of its new firetruck.

Then the E-One pumper will be taken out of service.

Wayne Township expressed an interest in the vehicle to replace an older one in its fleet.

The city, meanwhile, has been looking for a reliable chassis as a base for adapting its leaf vacuum system to a one-person operation.

“There is a unique opportunity here for an exchange of vehicles that could meet both of our interests,” Anderson said.

Dowagiac’s firetruck is valued at $23,000, Wayne Township’s Ford Grummen 1250 pumper, $3,000.

The city will take delivery of Wayne Township’s truck Aug. 25.

Wayne Township will take delivery of the city’s truck as soon as the new truck is delivered to Dowagiac and certified for operation — during which time Wayne Township will pay $20,000 to the city.

Anderson said during the interim period when Wayne Township Fire Department’s fleet is reduced by one vehicle, the city will be placed on dual dispatch status for any structure fire that may occur in areas for which the township is responsible to fight fires.

City code requires that the city must adopt a resolution notifying intent to sell equipment valued at more than $1,000 before taking final action, which was done Aug. 9.

The announcement of Premier Tool and Die’s receipt of Michigan MEGA tax credits will lead to a number of city actions to help facilitate its expansion that will bring jobs, tax base and utility sales to the community.

One follow-up step before council Monday night was a Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) brownfield grant to help clean up the former ICG foundry at 101 Poplar St.

The city’s resolution of support gains Premier’s application 25 points on the scoring system.

Council extended the franchise agreement with SEMCO Energy Gas Co. for 30 years, expiring in 2040.

A request from Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Chapter 1028 to host a fly-in from 7 to 11 a.m. Sept. 18 at Municipal Airport in conjunction with Dowagiac Lions Club was approved.

Candy Corner will be demolished Sept. 7.

James Sayer, who attended the meeting, was reappointed to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a term expiring in August 2013.

Council directed that $355,179.66 be paid out by the finance director, including $228,979 for bills and $126,200.66 in payroll.

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