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Council considers support of downtown renovation project

A potential urban renewal project was a main item of discussion at the Monday, January 3 meeting of the Mount Ayr city council.
[The meeting marked the first by newly elected council member Jessica Bishop.]
At their December 20 meeting, the council had approved a project submitted by Matt Hudson to renovate the former Odd Fellows Hall building at 106 E. Madison Street as the city’s applicant for a $100,000 Community Catalyst Remediation Grant.
Hudson plans to develop the bottom floor of the building into store front/office space and the second floor into living spaces.
In preparation for the official application due January 28, the council reviewed requirements for a in-kind donations and potential city match opportunities that are required to appear in the grant application.
City administrator Brent Wise shared a list of potential expenses the city could include in the application.
Part of the project includes the demolition of the old laundromat and turning that space into parking.
Wise said the city could assist with the removal of the demolition debris as well as with supplying gravel for the parking area. Costs for those services were estimated at nearly $7,500.
The city could also waive fees for water and sewer hookups estimated at $1,000.
Other items such as engineering fees, replacement of sidewalk, and grant writing fees could already be included in a Downtown Revitalization project currently being considered by the council.
In all, Wise estimated his list of potential in-kind donations would total $12,600, with another $10,000 coming from a potential financial contribution if approved by the council.
Wise mentioned those totals were in line with expectations from the officials approving the Catalyst funding.
Ringgold County Development Executive Director Jodie Geist added the finished project would benefit the city from increased property taxes and sewer and water revenues as well as increased foot traffic in the downtown area.
The council tabled final approval for moving forward with the application process with a decision to come at the January 17 meeting.
The council approved several appointments at Monday’s meeting:
Amanda Cannon – city clerk (2 year term)
Katie Giles – deputy city clerk (2 year term)
Amanda Cannon – city treasurer (2 year term)
Park board – Fay Howie and Ann Iannotta (3 year terms) – a third member is yet to be named.
Board of adjustment – Kurt Wallace (5 year term)
Low rent housing – Roland Jackson (3 year term) a second member is yet to be named.
Mayor Steve Fetty also named his appointments as council liaisons to various boards and groups for the coming year:
Mack Greene – Mayor Pro Tem, Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Employee Relations.
Ken Robertson – Landfill, Employee Relations, Water/Sewer.
Brad Elliott – Economic Development, Streets, Water/Sewer.
Jordan Stewart – Law Enforcement, Emergency Management, Park and Rec, Landfill.
Jessica Bishop – Park and Rec, Streets, Economic Development.
Other business
In other business the council:
• discussed acquisition of a property at 703 N. Cleveland Street. The property has been offered as a gift to the city, and Brent Wise estimated the cost to acquire the property would be $300.
However, it has been learned the property deed includes the name of a family member whose last known address was in Florida.
The council said they would consider acquiring the property if the Florida owner’s consent to the gift can be obtained.
• approved contracts with both Jason Palmer and Erin Hardisty to act as legal counsel for the city. It was decided that the city could use either individual depending upon the type of issue requiring their guidance.
• approved resolutions granting 5-year pro-rated tax abatements to Matthew Still and Luke Graves for new homes.
• approved keeping the same health insurance plan for city employees for the coming year. The current 72/28 percent split of monthly premium costs between the city and employees was maintained as well.
• briefly discussed employee wages for FY2023.
• approved repairs to the city’s sewer jetter pump at a cost of $9,500.

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