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Effingham IDA passes slightly smaller budget for coming fiscal year
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Effingham Industrial Development Authority members have approved a fiscal year 2016 budget that is a reduction from its current spending plan.

The IDA’s budget for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1, will be $6.18 million a 4.77 percent reduction from the $6.49 million budget for FY15.

Among the non-operating expenditures planned for the next 12 months are $1.395 million for the development of the IDA’s I-16 holdings. Of that total, $1.25 million is earmarked for infrastructure work on the north tract, such as the entrance road and waterline, said IDA CEO John Henry.

“The rest is for anything we may want to do on the south tract,” he added.

Also in the projected capital expenditures are $730,000 for the Research Forest Tract and $600,000 for the Highway 21 park.

The IDA is expecting to take in more than $4.07 million in operating revenues, with $3.15 million coming from its property tax receipts. The IDA is constitutionally obligated to levy 2 mills of property tax. The IDA is projecting $2.1 million in non-operating revenue, with $1.95 million coming from the sale of the Governor Treutlen site. The IDA is in negotiations with a prospect for the tract.

The lease from FONU2 for the Moon River Studios project is anticipated to bring in $550,000 in the coming fiscal year.

The planned expenditures on Research Forest and I-16 will help the IDA balance out a projected surplus.

“If we don’t have projects for the capital, then it rolls over into reserves,” Henry said.

As part of the $866,500 for operating expenses, the IDA is expecting to spend $150,000 on consultants and professional services. The IDA reserved $70,000 for consultants and professional services in the FY15 budget, which had been slotted for $170,000 in FY14.

“That is due to our ongoing discussions for strategic initiatives and capital planning and possibly hiring a consultant to help us through that 30,000 foot overview of Research Forest, to get that property closer to the market,” said IDA Chairman Chap Bennett.

IDA members are expected to hold a workshop in early August to go over their capital improvement and strategic plans. Assisting the IDA will be Jim Ewing, formerly of the state Department of Economic Development as one of its top site selectors.

The capital improvement plan will be part of the overall strategic plan

“When we discuss it in a month from now and we come to a specific conclusion as to what that capital plan is going to look like, the idea would be to have a solidified capital plan that meets that budget,” Bennett said.

Bennett added he discussed having Ewing provide questions to IDA members for them to answers, “so we can where we are consistently-minded,” he said. “We can be that much further along when we sit down for the strategic plan.”

IDA members also agreed to exercise the option with the county for 32 acres off Lowground Road. The land, adjacent to the county’s wastewater treatment plant, will be for an Elba Express compressor station. The transaction will bring the county $320,000.