CARBONDALE — During its first regularly scheduled meeting of the new year on Tuesday, the Carbondale City Council will discuss the end of its free downtown public parking trial, simplification of its liquor code and a new tax increment finance deal to renovate a longtime boarded-up building downtown.
While the council voted to ended its free parking experiment in December, it will take a vote Tuesday as to whether the city should sell resident and business employee parking passes. Proposed language would allow employees to purchases a pass for $5 a month or residents to pay $25 for a yearly pass.
In September, the city requested documents showing the financial standing of the various arms of the Park District. Taxes are the primary source of revenue for the park and the district is currently at its maximum for levying property taxes.
The council decided to take a test run of free downtown parking after outcry from citizens about parking tickets for downtown employees was brought to the council’s attention. The council also wanted to see if free parking would impact the number of people visiting downtown businesses.
The test ran from July 1, 2019, to Jan. 1, and, according to the detailed council agenda, it was the opinion of staff that free parking downtown didn't result in an increase in consumer traffic, which led to the suggestion that metered parking should again be enforced.
There has been modest public criticism over the suspension of free parking, with some even placing flyers on cars resembling city parking tickets. The flyers instead provide information opposing the city’s decision. Community organizer Nick Smaligo said there will likely be local residents and business owners present at the Tuesday meeting to comment on parking.
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Lawrence Millard, of Makanda, purchased 219 W. Main Street for $4,000 at a tax auction — he said he was surprised his bid was the winner. Since then, he has worked out a deal with the city to get tax increment financing, or TIF, for nearly $80,000 in repairs to the building.
However, beyond helping out a blighted building downtown, Millard said he’s not yet decided what to do with the property once the work is done.
Carbondale Economic Development Manager Steve Mitchell said business plan or not, the purpose of TIF is to eliminate blight, so the deal is a good fit. Mitchell explained that the agreement would factor in how much of an improvement the renovations would have on the base equalized assessed value of the property and pay about 75% of the property taxes collected on that increase back to the developer.
Mitchell said the money paid out through TIF agreements are not taken from any part of the city's general fund, but instead, funds are set aside once taxes are paid and placed in a specific account that is used to pay out TIFs each year.
Also up for a vote is a simplification of the city’s liquor code, which currently has 23 different classifications and subcategories. According to Tuesday’s agenda, the goal of the rewrite is to simplify the number of classifications in the code, and make enforcement more equal.
The council will take up these and other issues during its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Carbondale Civic Center.
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