MOUNT VERNON - A Mount Vernon lawmaker says it's not too late to consider other communities for special tax districts, as is being done with Marion with a proposed destination development.
State Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon, offered these comments in response to an article in the Friday edition of the Southern Illinoisan.
Jones challenged Democratic Marion Rep. John Bradley's notion it was too late to include Mount Vernon in the STAR bonds district. The creation of the district - which is outlined in Senate Bill 2093, now awaiting action in the Illinois Senate - would allow a portion of sales tax revenue generated by business patronage in the development site to pay off construction bonds.
"I do not disagree with Representative John Bradley about the timing on the current STAR bonds legislation; however, there are plenty of bills that additional STAR bond areas could be attached to. If we all work together, legislation can be crafted to benefit all of southern Illinois," Jones said.
"I would hope that Representative Bradley is serious about economic development for our entire region," he continued. "If we are going to pass STAR bonds then we need to afford the same opportunities to communities across the state. The bill offers Marion an incentive that no other community in Illinois has. How can Mt. Vernon, Centralia, Salem and Carbondale expect to maintain pace? The current legislation pits communities against each other."
Mount Vernon Mayor Mary Jane Chesley has expressed reservation about allowing only the Marion development to have the STAR bond option.
Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole is also missing from a list of Southern Illinois officials supporting the development project but has not responded to repeated requests for comment on the matter.