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by Mark Cheffey
The effort to establish a Community Improvement District in Palmyra continued with a second public meeting last Wednesday.
Approximately 15 people, many of them owners of property in the downtown business district, attended the meeting at Hall’s Hall during which feedback was gathered concerning the proposed CID’s boundaries.
Corey Mehaffy, the executive director of the Hannibal Regional Economic Development Council, who led Wednesday’s meeting, said it went well, and the CID boundaries, a major step in the ongoing process, are close to being finalized.
“Yes, we are moving along well,” Mehaffy said. “This part of the process takes some time as we work on the boundaries. Once the boundaries are established, they cannot be changed so it is important to take the time to get this right.”
Specific boundaries are needed to establish who would be eligible for improvement funding and from where the funding would be collected.
The next step will be to take the boundaries back to the city council for a possible final decision, possibly as early as this Thursday’s regular council meeting.
“The council will need to decide if the proposed boundaries are final,” Mehaffy said. “If so, we will start on the next steps in the process.”
Once the boundaries are finalized the next steps would lead to eventually seeking voter approval for the district during a future election.
Considering there have been discussions for years in Palmyra about finding ways to help improve downtown without any positive results, Mehaffy said the current effort has gained traction and that feedback, so far has been “all good.”
“We have had a few questions about the additional sales tax and how that may impact businesses that sell larger ticket items,” Mehaffy said. “When I met with the council after the first meeting, they indicated that they had very positive feedback as well.”
And while there may have been skepticism concerning past efforts, Mehaffy said the current mood seems to be more hopeful about getting something done before it’s too late.
“The comments weren’t negative, more that people would really like to see something happen this time,” Mehaffy said. “They see the need and want to see something move forward for the community.”
Some past concerns have revolved around possible strings attached in order to obtain funding or about excessive regulation, but Mehaffy said that is not the case with a CID.
“If people own facilities within the boundaries, but choose not to participate in the programs, there is no impact at all,” Mehaffy said. “If they choose to participate, for example by using the revolving loan fund, grant programs, etc., then there will be a requirement to meet the current codes.
Mehaffy also pointed out there will be local control of the district.
“These programs will be established by the CID board,” Mehaffy said. “The board will also administer the programs. Having a board of local people who understand the needs in the community will help mitigate these issues.
“These are not federal or state programs as an example.”