Council considers $1.4 million loan to help relocate business to Evanston
EVANSTON — Councilman Tib Ottley was first on the agenda for the Evanston City Council work session held on Aug. 11. Ottley raised a question concerning the unequal representation of the city on the Evanston Parks and Recreation board.
“When the city provides $2 million to the parks and rec department and the school district only gives $250,000, why do we only have four members representing us and the school district has five? It seems lopsided,” Ottley said.
Scott Ehlers, director of the Evanston Parks and Recreation District, responded to Ottley’s concern. He gave the council members a copy of recreation board requirements from its bylaws. Ehlers explained that the bylaws for the board were created and signed on June 26, 1986, and if the council wants to change them he will look into it.
“The way I understand it was that in 1986, there was an agreement that Parks and Recreation would provide recreational use to the school district and the school district, at that time, paid more,” Ehlers said.
City Attorney Dennis Boal said the mill levy during the boom had increased the amount the school district was paying at that time, so they had more representation on the board. When the boom ended and the mill levy decreased, the city increased their contribution and responsibilities to recreation. Boal said that it was before any of the current council’s time of service but that was how he understood it, and he agreed the bylaws could be looked at and changed.
Ottley reiterated that he is only concerned with the number of people representing the city on the board. Councilman Evan Perkes said he thought there should be two council members on the recreation board to increase the interaction.
“We have three city representatives whose terms are up in 2021,” Ehlers said, “so you could appoint two council members then. Also, if we need to change and update the bylaws, we will, but I will say that every decision has always been for the good of everybody. Since I have been more in the frontline, I’ve seen more working together with the city and school district.”
Mayor Kent Williams agreed that it is important to make sure the representatives on the board are serving the current climate and population.
Evanston Community Development Director Rocco O’Neill brought the only other item for discussion to the work session. He’s asked the council to apply for a $1.4 million loan from the Wyoming Business Council to assist in relocating a manufacturing firm to Evanston. The company manufactures inside doors and windows and is seeking to relocate from the Pacific Northwest to Evanston.
O’Neill and Boal both explained the process for the loan application and repayment. The City of Evanston would apply for the 2% interest loan of $1.4 million, and Avalon, the company considering moving here, would provide $500,000 toward the construction of the 60,000-square-foot building. If the loan is granted, the city would pay $22,000 of interest loan the first year.
The lease agreement with Avalon would be for 10 years. The first year, Avalon would pay $2,000 a month to the city; and at the end of that first year and for the next four years, Avalon would pay $11,500 per month to the city. After four years, Avalon would begin to pay $15,000 per month to the city until the end of the 10-year lease agreement.
“I realize this is something new and has never been done before,” O’Neill said. “No money would come out of the city coffers as the lease payments would more than pay for the loan repayment.”
Boal added that Avalon is a reputable company and they are ready to go. He said the company will hire 17 employees to start and after five years would increase employees to 60. Boal said that Avalon pays a competitive wage and would be a nice addition to the industrial area in the city.
“It is an interesting prospect,” Williams said. “I have to admit I have a certain level of anxiety about it but am comfortable with their business practices. We do need to diversify, and the city can help to facilitate that. If they cannot live up to their part, we will have a 60,000-square-foot building to sell or rent. We do not intend to be landlords but, having said that, the city needs to be proactive and help commerce grow.”