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City moves to purchase more land at papermill

Owner has OK’d preliminary bid of $150,000 from Morris

The city of Morris, upon approval of the full city council, will be placing a bid on another portion of the old Federal Paperboard property.

The Finance and Administration Committee Friday passed a recommendation to have the city attorney draw up paperwork for the council’s approval to bid $150,000 on the three-acre property.

The property is located at East and Benton streets and has about 1.5 acres with a building on it. The other half is just ground property.

This is not the first time the city has attempted to purchase the property.

In previous years, it was listed for $800,000, and at one time the city bid $300,000, but never heard back on the bid, Mayor Richard Kopczick said.

Kopczick was contacted by the realtor recently and, after talking with the finance committee, was given the go ahead to give a preliminary bid. The bid was for $150,000 and was accepted. Now the city will go through the formal steps for bidding on and purchasing the property.

Budget Officer John Enger said at the meeting there was $300,000 budgeted for the purchase in the Tax Increment Financing District Fund.

“We can look at cleaning it up and reselling the property for development. I’m not saying we’re going to develop the property,” Kopczick said.

Years ago, when the city looked at condemning the property for public use, it discussed moving the Public Works Department from its location near the river to the old papermill.

If it were condemned, it would have to be used for public use, but since the city is now purchasing the property from a new owner, it does not have to be for public use.

In previous years, there was also discussion of expanding the Habitat for Humanity subdivision.

The city and Grundy-Three Rivers Habitat for Humanity made a deal for the charitable organization to purchase five lots of papermill property the city already owns to build homes. One house has already been built at the former papermill site.

The council will take action on the bid at its Dec. 17 meeting.

In other business, the committee also made a recommendation to declare a surplus in the Water and Sewer Capital Improvement Fund of $905,000. This surplus will be transferred to the General Fund to be used for the state’s Sales Tax Increment Distribution program.

The state matching program is for sales tax dollars generated in the Tax Increment Financing District. A TIF District freezes the assessed value of properties in the district. Any tax money generated from increases in value of those properties then goes into a special fund to be used to improve properties in the district.

The city participates in this matching program most every year. Last year, it contributed about $359,000, and the state contributed about $559,000 to the TIF fund, which resulted in more than $900,000 going to the TIF fund.

This year, the city will have to contribute $1.3 million to get the state’s match of $1.7 million, resulting in $3 million going into the TIF fund. The city already budgeted about $400,000, so it’s taking the $905,000 to meet the $1.3 million.

The plan is to pay back the water and sewer capital fund in payments of $300,000 over three years, said Enger. With the transfer to the General Fund, the capital fund still has about $380,000, and the fund will get more money from incoming annexations.

“If we need a new well or water tower, would we break (the water and sewer capital fund)?” asked Alderman Ken Sereno.

Enger said if a large project came up, such as a well or water tower, the city would work to locate it in the TIF district to utilize TIF funds.

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