Tax levy, hotel, TIF district top Champaign agenda

CHAMPAIGN — The city council has a busy agenda Tuesday night, including new plans for the former Gateway Studios on North Neil Street and moving forward on providing incentives to help Kraft Foods redevelop the old AC Humko site on North Mattis Avenue.

The city council will meet at 7 p.m. in the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St. Its agenda includes:

— Setting the property-tax levy. Members will need to finalize the decision they made two weeks ago to not raise next year's property-tax rate. They are set to take action toward repeating the rate homeowners paid this year: $1.3152 per $100 of equalized assessed valuation.

With the same rate, the city expects to collect less tax revenue because of a projected 0.88 percent drop in the city's taxable property values.

— Dropping plans to pay up-front for the demolition of Gateway Studios, the long-vacant, infamous hotel on North Neil Street just south of the Interstate 74 interchange. New owner Kelly Dillard has already started demolition, and he plans to have the whole thing torn down no later than spring.

The city had a court order for demolition and planned to do the work but now must reject its bids after Dillard bought the property and began tearing it down. The city got bids between $893,875 and $1.37 million.

— Finalizing plans for a public hearing on the creation of the North Mattis Avenue tax-increment-financing district, which the city is using to create incentives to redevelop the former AC Humko site near Mattis and Bradley avenues.

The public hearing would happen Jan. 21, and it is one of the first steps in creating the TIF district to help subsidize Kraft's expansion onto the property. The city expects it will provide a roughly $3.6 million subsidy for the estimated $38 million expansion project.

— Refinancing a portion of the debt the city issued in 2005 to build the new library on Green Street. In a study session after the regular council meeting, members could say they want to refinance about $8.72 million of the $12.86 million in outstanding debt.

City officials estimate they could save $33,000 annually for nine years — for a total near $300,000.

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