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IDA approves its FY13 budget
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority members believe their budget and recently-approved capital improvement plan will set the IDA up to move some of their plans forward.

The IDA members approved their budget for fiscal year 2013 at their meeting last week. The IDA is anticipating $4.2 million in operating and non-operating expenditures, aside from debt service, for a total budget of $6.76 million. Operating revenues are expected to generate more than $3.65 million, with another $2.9 million coming from capital reserves.

"This was a fairly seamless process this year," said IDA chairman Dennis Webb. "This was the easiest budget process I’ve been a part of."

With an expected 9.2 percent drop in the property tax digest,the IDA is expecting a decrease in property tax revenue, from $3.2 million to $3.15 million. By state constitutional amendment, the IDA gets 2 mills in property taxes each year.

The IDA’s finance committee adjusted the operating revenue to account for lease proceeds on a cell tower at the Effingham Industrial Park site. That revenue will go toward wetlands work at the Highway 21 park.

There are no substantial changes in operating expenditures, aside from employee health insurance and office maintenance. The IDA is putting aside $25,000 for work needed on the building.

The IDA also expects an updated timber management plan from forester John Hurlebus, but board members aren’t expecting a great deal of activity in timber sales for the coming fiscal year. The IDA collected more than $300,000 in timber sales from its tracts but is budgeting only $200,000 in revenue.

"We’re very conservative in our numbers," said IDA member Jimmy Wells.

Revenue from timber sales will be coupled with capital reserves for a $3.1 million capital improvement line item. The vast majority of the capital expenditures are ticketed for work on the I-16 park.

A water tank on the north side of the I-16 tract should be finished by the end of the month, according to Henry. The water tank has a 500,000-gallon capacity.

"They go 12 days on and four days off," he said.

IDA members also approved a contract with Coastal Grading to construct a 400-foot length of road from Old River Road that will serve as a secondary entrance to the I-16 south tract. The contract also calls for widening of Old River Road for a left-turn lane into the tract.

Van Road will be tied into the new section of road to be built.

"It cleans up that intersection," said IDA project manager Ryan Moore. "It makes it a whole lot safer. All these plans dovetail into what the county plans to do to improve Old River Road."

The IDA received six bids on the project, and the top three were within $1,500 of each other. The IDA budgeted $389,000 for the road, and the low bid came in at $326,000.

The new section of road also will be able to carry truck traffic and is expected to take three to four months to complete.