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Effingham IDA sets budget for upcoming fiscal year

POSTED: June 30, 2014 6:34 p.m.

The Effingham Industrial Development Authority has approved a $6.49 million budget for its coming fiscal year, making no significant changes to its draft budget.

The IDA projects no change in its operating revenue for FY2015, but it will be boosting its non-operating revenue by more than $600,000.

“We’ve gone through this for three or four months now,” said IDA CEO John Henry.

The non-operating capital expenditure bottom line is increasing by nearly $500,000, from $2.67 million to $3.12 million. While the IDA is cutting its spending on Highway 21 park development from $600,000 to $20,000, it is boosting its Interstate 16 park development total from $1.79 million to $3.05 million. The additional spending is going toward water and sewer infrastructure at the I-16 property.

IDA representatives and Medient Studios’ new leadership team are expected to meet to discuss a revised project schedule for the planned massive studioplex at I-16’s northern tract. Once constructed, it will become the largest film studio in the U.S. But the federal Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended the studios’ stock trading, and former Medient CEO and chairman Manu Kumaran is suing the new leadership team after he was ousted following an in-house takeover.

“We came to that with the timeline of Medient moving ahead,” said IDA vice-chairman Chap Bennett of the park development totals. “It’s our best budgeted amount with the information we have today.”

“Most of that number,” IDA Chairman Dennis Webb said of the I-16 development figure, “is for the sewer system.”

The IDA’s budget was approved prior to the Medient stock sale suspension and Kumaran’s lawsuit being field in Nevada state court.

While operating revenues, including the 2 mills of property tax the IDA is constitutionally-mandated to receive, will remain stable at just over $3.54 million, the IDA is cutting its projected revenue from property and timber sales from $1.2 million to $150,000. The capital reserves line is being boosted from $1.17 million to $2.8 million for the coming fiscal year.

Spending on consultants and professional services is expected to be slashed from $170,000 to $70,000, leading to a $100,000 overall decrease in total operating expenditures. Spending on the office building and furnishings is being cut from $30,600 to $20,000, and spending on the Research Forest Tract is being reduced from $250,000 to $30,000.

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