The Jefferson City Council will hear a bill on Monday proposing a 100% property tax abatement on the Simonsen redevelopment project.
During the regular sitting at 6:00 p.m., the bill and subsequent information will be submitted for a first reading. The public can attend in person at City Hall or virtually via a link on the city’s website.
In 2020, two Simonsen alumni, Allyn and Todd Witt, purchased the historic Ninth Grade Center. They plan to renovate it into modern apartments and amenity space while retaining and restoring the historic qualities of the school.
Through Chapter 353 of Missouri’s Revised Statutes, municipalities can enter into an agreement that businesses do not pay school, state, county, or municipal taxes on real estate defined as “degraded areas.” The bill proposes a 100% abatement of the property tax over a period of 25 years.
City Attorney Ryan Moehlman said the purpose of the tax abatement is to economically support a project.
“It’s a deal, they don’t have to pay that tax for a while to boost the project, make sure it stays successful or gets established,” he said.
The abatement bill does not include personal property tax relief inside the building, which is located at 501 E. Miller St. Moehlman said that because Simonsen is a residential-type development, the Property tax relief is not as applicable as the projects. involving commercial or industrial development.
This spring, an analysis commissioned by Lauber Municipal Law concluded that the property was degraded, deteriorated or unsafe and represented a significant economic liability for the city.
Although the building is in fairly good condition considering its 90+ year status, asbestos and lead may be present, and it suffered damage when hit by the tornado in May 2019. The study concluded, among other things, parts of the building’s walls, roof, plumbing, floors and foundation had deteriorated.
Mayor Carrie Tergin, a former student of Simonsen, said the modern apartments would serve to provide a type of housing currently in demand for the downtown area.
“We need all kinds of residential housing and it brings a very unique type of rehabilitated space,” she said. “Moving from school to living space will bring this area to life, as there were a lot of students and activities going on there.”
$2,500 essential worker pay and ARPA
Scheduled for a vote on Monday, the council will decide whether to pay a one-time essential worker pay of $2,500 to all city employees — full-time and part-time with benefits.
This payment would be funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and would cost approximately $1.12 million from its remaining funds.
Discussion of how to spend the money is an early and regular topic at council sessions, and Monday’s meeting will be no exception. In total, the city has received $7.59 million from the federal government and $790,917 is committed for stormwater improvements.
Aside from paying essential workers $2,500, the council is not expected to vote on other proposed projects, but will hear bills authorizing payments toward them. City Administrator Steve Crowell said last week the bills would likely be read a second and third time at later meetings before council votes to formally pass the appropriations.
ARPA-funded bills to be introduced include:
• $200,000 for new radios for the Jefferson City Fire Department.
• $635,670 for body and car cameras for the police department’s body and car cameras.
• $540,000 for probable “City facilities” for the following projects: $350,000 for the renovation of police station locker rooms and elevators, $100,000 for door access system, $87,240 for the modernization of two fire department sprinkler systems.
• Approximately $1.93 million for the burned down building in Hyde Park.
• $1 million set aside to finalize negotiations related to Missouri State Penitentiary development projects.
• $500,000 for Lincoln University’s matching investment in the Health Science and Crisis Center project.
• $100,000 for the United Capital City soccer complex project.
• $325,000 for municipal infrastructure and capital projects.