SIKESTON -- Sikeston will jump on the Enhanced Enterprise Zone bandwagon.
During their regular meeting Monday, council members approved a $15,000 contract with the Bootheel Regional Planning Commission for services related to establishing an Enhanced Enterprise Zone in the city.
The Enhanced Enterprise Zone will allow Sikeston to stay competitive in economic development, explained Ed Dust, director of Sikeston's Department of Economic Development. He said several other communities in the Bootheel are applying as well.
"This is a 25-year program," Dust said.
He said the Enterprise Zone program the city has successfully been using for around 20 years is about to expire. "We run out in 2010," Dust said. "It's a very valuable tool."
In addition to continuing to enable the city to offer tax abatements, the new program will also add the ability to offer tax credits, according to Dust.
The new program would include nearly everything within the city limits including areas in New Madrid County, enabling the same incentives to be offered that have been available for the Scott County portion, he said.
"We're taking in some property that wasn't in the original Enterprise Zone," Dust said.
The only part of Sikeston that would not be included within its city limits is located in the southeast corner, south of Highway 60, as that area does not qualify under the program's specifications. "Commercial enterprises don't qualify," Dust said.
The contract with the BRPC will include research, application paperwork and holding public hearings.
The first $7,500 will be due upon submittal of the application and the other $7,500 when the Missouri Department of Economic Development approves the project.
Steve Duke, executive director of the BRPC, said he doesn't know if there is a provision for an amendment to include areas added to the city limits after the zone's establishment but will look into the matter.
"The intent is for economic development," he said.
In other business Monday:
* A public hearing for the fiscal year 2007 budget and capital plan was held without comment from the public. The fiscal year begins July 1 and runs through June 30, 2007.
Monday's public hearing was the fourth opportunity for public comment, according to City Manager Doug Friend. The budget was also published in the Standard Democrat and on the city's Web site.
"We're looking at cutting back on some capital expenditures this year," Friend said. "The general fund revenues are not as high as we anticipated when the new sales tax went into place."
Commitments to the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety have been met for the most part as well as initial support of the Land Clearance Redevelopment Authority. "In a year or so that commitment will be fulfilled," Friend said of the LCRA funding.
Friend said this budget will require "tweaking the plan" by putting off scheduled equipment replacements.
If approved as presented, staffing and compensation levels will remain the same as the previous fiscal year for the city's 127 full-time and seven part-
Employees will not get a cost-of-living raise in this budget but will receive a $1,000 bonus. The budget also continues to provide for merit raises.
"Don't take this as a bleak situation; it's a bump in the road," Friend said. "If we don't adjust our plan we're not doing our job."
The Council is slated to approve the budget and the staffing and compensation ordinances during a special meeting scheduled for 7:15 a.m. June 15.
* Council members approved a bill which authorizes adjustments to building, permit and inspection fees.
The new fee schedule goes into effect July 5.
The adjustment, which is being sought to bring the fees to a level consistent with the city's cost of doing business, is based on actual expenses incurred as reported in the city's audits as well as a comparative analysis of neighboring communities.
The fees had not changed in over 30 years, according to Friend, "so we felt it was time to do something."
Figures indicated the city was bringing in about $35,000 less than the cost for code enforcement officers, computers and other support systems. "All we are doing is trying to cover the cost of the operation," Friend said.
Staff began working on the fee change in late December. A formal briefing was then conducted during a special meeting on March 27. On April 20, a public meeting on the fee change was held but no comment was received from residents, area contractors or developers, Friend said.
The bill also provides for future adjustments to be made if needed.
* Council members approved a request from the Country Club for the execution of a collateral assignment of their lease with the city to U.S. Bank so it can be used as collateral to secure a $280,000 loan.
On March 2, 1981, the city leased to the Country Club a tract of land which is used by the club for the back nine holes of its golf course.
If the club defaults on the loan now, the bank will take over the lease on that property.
"They would still have to perform the terms of the lease," said Chuck Leible, city counselor.