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Franklin County contemplates creating I-57 enterprise zone

  • Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker explains to board members an intergovernmental agreement that would create an I-57 enterprise zone corridor for a four-year period.

    Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker explains to board members an intergovernmental agreement that would create an I-57 enterprise zone corridor for a four-year period.
    Rick Hayes photo

 
By Rick Hayes
Contributing writer
updated: 5/31/2018 6:18 PM

If approved by four Franklin County governmental bodies, an I-57 enterprise zone corridor would be implemented for a four-year period.

Franklin County Board Chairman Randall Crocker said the intergovernmental agreement would include Franklin County and the cities of West City, West Frankfort and Benton.

Currently, there are two enterprise zones in the area -- a combined city of Benton/Franklin County one and a separate zone for the city of West Frankfort. The new enterprise zone would reduce the number to one. The current enterprise zones expire in 2020, Crocker said.

If approved by the four entities, the group would employ Moran Economic Development for technical services and assistance to establish the enterprise zone. The agreement must be approved by all four entities before the zone is established, Crocker said.

Most enterprise zones are established for a 20-year span. The current enterprise zones were established for a 10-year period.

Under the new agreement, tax abatements for new businesses created would be 100 percent the first year, 75 percent the second year, 50 percent the third year and 25 percent the fourth year.

"There is also language in it that would give (sales tax) exemptions on real estate developments. The idea is to create more residential real estate expansion," Crocker said, noting the development must include at least five units.

The chairman said the cost to Moran would be about $28,000 and would be split among the four entities, about $7,000 each. Asked when that amount would be due, Crocker replied that half, or $3,500, would be needed immediately.

"I think it's something we need and has value," Crocker said.

The intergovernmental agreement was approved unanimously by the Franklin County Board. The remaining entities have not acted on the proposal yet, although it was expected to be approved at Tuesday's Benton City Council meeting.

Local officials joined several collar counties in affirming Franklin County as a gun sanctuary county. Not everyone was happy with the language in the resolution, including Health and Environment Chairman Tom Vaughn. Vaughn said he has not had ample time to review the house and senate bills being considered by the Illinois General Assembly that would restrict the individual rights of citizens protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Vaughn was the lone member to vote against the resolution in an 8-1 vote.

Supervisor of Assessments Cynthia Humm has been appointed to another four-year term, although she indicated at Tuesday's full board meeting that she would not fill out the term, opting for retirement.