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Annual bailout needed early for Jacksonville’s golf courses

Thomas Clatterbuck

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The Jacksonville municipal golf courses ran into trouble a little early this year. Usually at the end of the year, the golf courses are short on cash and need the city’s help to make payroll. Typically, the courses request around $10,000 in late November. This is not surprising considering the courses perennially lose substantial amounts of money.

But this year, the request is much larger, and came much earlier. The courses requested $50,000 at the August 28th City Council meeting. According to the City Clerk, that $50,000 may not be enough to cover the remaining payrolls and purchases the course will face this year. Even with lower expenses, the courses are suffering from revenue shortfalls. Play is down at the Jacksonville courses, as it is at most courses around the nation.

What will the city do?

Based on the council’s discussion, the golf courses are going to continue to lose money, and taxpayers are going to continue to prop them up. The most substantive suggestion on what to do was to simply roll the budget for the courses into the Parks & Lake budget. This would make it easier to funnel money to the courses, while simultaneously making it harder to tell how much money they lose. Perennial revenue shortfalls make the bailout request an unpleasant annual ritual for the council. Councilors were obviously annoyed to be defending the losses from community members that raised issues with this year’s bailout.

The last four years have seen six-figure losses at the city’s golf courses. This week’s funding request suggests this year is going to be just as bad, and probably much worse.  If the city council thinks having municipal golf courses is a net positive for the community, they need to own that decision. If that means higher taxes, so be it. Merely proposing changing the accounting suggests that the council does not believe the taxpayers share their support for the Links.

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Senior strategist, statehouse reporter and political correspondent for Springfield Daily. Graduate of District 117 and UIS. Thomas covers stories in both Morgan and Sangamon Counties, as well as statewide politics.

Announcements

Boil Order issued for parts of Deerfield Subdivision

Staff Contributor

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Press Release | City Water, Light and Power is issuing a boil order for parts of Deerfield subdivision, where a water service was repaired recently. Customers affected who are receiving notices today include these duplexes in Deerfield subdivision:

5300 thru 5411 Biltmore Dr.
2300 thru 2414 Asheville Dr.
2300 thru 2411 Knoxville Dr.
2204 & 2205 Thrasher Dr. & 5304 & 5305 Murre Dr.

Customers affected should boil all tap water used for drinking or cooking before use until this order is lifted. Water should be brought to a “rolling” boil for five minutes and then cooled before use when appropriate.

This boil order follows repair work to a water service on Asheville Drive. Per regulations, the main was flushed and multiple water samples were taken. One set of the samples did not fully meet CWLP water quality standards. Additional water quality sampling is being done to confirm that the water meets all standards and at such time, this boil order would be lifted.

When the boil order is lifted, which at the earliest would be this Friday afternoon, March 22, it will be announced by door to door notifications to customers affected and on CWLP’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/4CWLP and Twitter page, www.twitter.com/cwlp_. Customers affected wanting more information on their service may also call the Water Communications Desk at 789-2323 ext. 2.

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Business

Washington Street redevelopment gets TIF support

Thomas Clatterbuck

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A new downtown hotel development took a big step forward at the Springfield City Council Meeting. DK Collection SPI received $7.65 million in TIF funding to incentivize their $56 million project. These funds will offset property taxes once the project is completed. Unlike some TIF projects, the hotel will only get the TIF benefit after the construction is completed and it starts to owe taxes. However, the developers said that this support was key to making the project a viable investment.

The development will be more than just a hotel, and will include both luxury apartments and various entertainment venues. During construction, it should create between 400 to 600 jobs, including 15 to 30 summer jobs for local youths. The site itself will employ 130 to 150 full and part time positions.

The council was very supportive of the new development. In addition to the initial jobs and investment, there are hopes that it will draw more conventions and visitors to Springfield. Although there were some concerns about adding competition, the extended-stay style of the new hotel was seen as filling a different niche in the tourism scene.

Parking was the only serious concern for the development. Springfield may have more downtown parking than many cities, but adding several hundred new jobs and visitors creates a logistical challenge. Existing parking companies downtown expressed their concerns about the potential displacement of people who currently park in the areas that will be redeveloped. Alderman Joe McMenamin echoed these concerns, and suggested that the council was moving too quickly to approve the project. McMenamin referenced the Hy-Vee TIF project, where he said taking more time led to better outcomes for both the developer and the city.

Other aldermen disagreed. Alderman Andrew Proctor said that he had received no complains or messages about the potential parking issue. Mayor Langfelder said that parking patterns shift over the course of the day, and that lots that are under-utilized at night could be looked at to alleviate any shortage. The developer also said that since the last meeting, they had negotiated with other property owners downtown and changed some of their designed, and had added a significant amount of parking to their plan.

After calling the question to end debate, the Council voted 9-1 in favor of approving the TIF funds. Despite voting against the measure tonight, McMenamin later said that he was fully in favor of the project, but not how the council had moved the issue forward.

You can watch the final discussion in the player above, or the developer’s initial presentation in the player below.

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Live

LIVE | Springfield City Council Meeting, March 19th

Staff Contributor

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Follow along live with the Springfield City Council meeting for March 19th, 2019. The council will be voting on a proposal to provide $7,650,000 in TIF funding for a new hotel project on Washington St. The $56 million project would create an extended stay hotel. The hotel would also have luxury apartments and other commercial applications. Parking was the primary concern voiced at the last meeting. Construction is expected to create 400 to 600 new jobs, including a youth apprenticeship program.

The meeting was adjourned for executive session. The start of the meeting is below, the TIF discussion is in the top player.

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