Jasper City Council: 8/21

Last night, the Jasper City Council upheld a recommendation made earlier this week by the Jasper Utility Service Board to reject Healthy Dubois County’s settlement offer concerning the conversion of the city’s power plant to biomass.

The settlement letter sent by Healthy Dubois County had five conditions in it. But Jasper mayor Terry Seitz says none of those conditions were in line with the city’s interests. He says the city will now move forward with the process of negotiating with Healthy Dubois County:

The biggest point of contention for the city concerning that settlement was the request that the city admit it violated the Open Door Law with some of the meetings held on the plant, which was ultimately leased to Twisted Oak Corporation of Atlanta, GA. Other conditions in the letter included reimbursement of legal fees, admitting that the city underestimated the health effects of the facility, and abandoning the project altogether. The city council also gave attorney Bill Kaiser the authority to begin settlement negotiations with Healthy Dubois County, upholding another part of the utility board’s decision from its Monday meeting. The city plans to propose termination of the litigation with prejudice (meaning that the case could not be refiled) and that both parties pay their own legal fees.

Also last night, the council decided to hold off on selling several surplus properties within the city following a recommendation from the park board to do so until a plan for the properties can be figured out. Seitz says a decision on selling the properties was not necessarily an urgent matter:

One specific parcel of land on the southeast corner of 15th and Newton that the city owns from street expansion was put up for sale at last night’s meeting. Seitz says there has been interest expressed in that small portion of land leading to the city moving ahead with its sale.

Finally last night, the council heard a presentation from Doug Woodard of Advanced Furniture Testing of Holland, MI. Advanced Furniture Testing recently received approval for a tax phase-in from the Jasper Economic Development Commission. Seitz says the company started up several years ago and the presence of Jasper Group played a key role in luring the company to Jasper:

The Economic Development Commission recommended an eight year abatement, which would include 6 years of 100 percent abatement and a phase-in of taxes over the final two years. The company plans to purchase as much as $200,000 in new equipment for the laboratory. The new lab will be put in place in warehouse space it plans to lease along the 700 block of East 13th St.

The council made a declaratory resolution at last night’s meeting, meaning that the council has declared that area in need of revitalization. A final decision is expected to be made at next month’s council meeting.