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MURPHYSBORO — Murphysboro's mayor is working on a proposal to entice property owners with businesses and homes just outside the city limits to voluntarily annex their properties into the city.

Mayor Will Stephens hopes to see the city benefit from tax sales revenue from these businesses and add services to these businesses. Businesses that the mayor cited during Tuesday night's council meeting were North 14th Street businesses Pat's BBQ & Catering at 1673 Illinois 13 Business Highway and One Hot Cookie, which recently relocated to 1290 Illinois 13 Business Highway.

Stephens said he is still developing the proposal, which would involve a graduated tax-abatement approach and cover other concerns, such as infrastructure needs and insurance benefits from the city's fire protection rating.

"If somebody would voluntarily annex in, the city portion of their property tax increase would be abated for five years — they wouldn't see that increase for five years — the second five years they would see a 50 percent increase and then after that they would be to a full levy," Stephens told those at Tuesday night's City Council meeting. 

The mayor said he has not approached the county formally with proposal.

"When we talk about the adjustments in what the state is reimbursing, trying to get that extra sales tax revenue from a place like Pat's (BBQ & Catering) and One Hot Cookie — and others that are right there on the border — could offset our losses, and so it's something I'm really going to try to push hard on soon," he said.

In July, One Hot Cookie owner Sarah Lavender-Brashear asked the city for and received inclusion of her business in the county’s Enterprise Zone — which is managed by Murphysboro, Carbondale and Jackson County.  She has planned millions of dollars worth of construction over the next few years, including a $2 million bed-and-breakfast.

Stephens expects to present a more formal proposal at a future city council meeting.

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Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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