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Business Down $46 Million, Mayor Tells Archbold Chamber




Business in Archbold is down $46 million in two years.

That’s what Jim Wyse, Archbold mayor, told members of the Archbold Area Chamber of Commerce during the Monday, Jan. 12, luncheon.

“Since 2006, we’ve seen a decline of around $700,000” in income tax revenue, he said.

The village imposes a 1.5% tax on income and on corporate profits, with the money earmarked for capital improvement projects.

That $700,000 figure, in and of itself, “is a lot of money,” Wyse said.

“But when you do the math, how much payroll and how much corporate profits have to go down at a 1.5% tax rate; that’s a decline of $46 million in two years.

“We certainly have our challenges,” he said.

It is relatively easy for the village to adjust to a shortfall in income tax revenue. Capital projects are simply scaled back to more closely match estimated revenues.

But it’s a much different situation for the village parks and recreation department.

Parks & Rec relies almost exclusively on its one-quarter of one percent (.25%) share of the 1.5% tax.

The department received about $815,000 from its share of the income tax in 2007. For 2008, the figure diminished to about $700,000.

Wyse said he is optimistic that figure will go up in 2009, but he is also a realist, and predicts it to decline further.

That puts Parks & Rec in a bind, because Wyse said in the early 2000s, village officials and the Park Board began “to get aggressive,” adding Woodland Park and planning other major improvements in other parks.

Right now, the Park Board is carrying about $2.5 million in debt on the construction of Woodland Park; last year, the board was only able to repay $50,000 of the debt.

He will reveal a plan to assist the park board to Archbold Village Council within the next 30 days.

Wyse did not elaborate on any of the details of the plan.

Water

Wyse discussed improvements to the village water system, which will need to take place in the next few years.

For example, he said the village water tower will need to be replaced in the next few years, and the village reservoir capacity will need to be upgraded.

Toward that end, the village owns property north of East Lutz Road and west of Co. Rd. 22, which was purchased specifi cally for that purpose. The debt on the property was repaid about two years ago, he said.

He also mentioned the connection of a possible Archbold and Wauseon municipal water distribution system by constructing a pipeline along St. Rt. 2 to Pettisville, where the Archbold water system ends.

That, he said, would help Pettisville’s water supply.

Economic Development

In spite of the down economy, Archbold continues its efforts to recruit business to the village.

Wyse mentioned the Northwest Educational Service Center office-building project, currently under construction in the village industrial park.

The building is being constructed by Lugbill Brothers, Inc., with Rupp-Rosebrock, Liberty Center. The $5 million-plus building will host about 200 employees of the NWOESC and the Northwest Ohio Computer Association (NWOCA), which will generate about $5 million in annual payroll.

“When I finish my time in offi ce, that will be one of my top five projects,” Wyse said.

He also mentioned the return of Archbold Furniture to the village. Wyse said the company paid about $1.5 million for the former Young Spring & Wire building, bringing 50 jobs back to Archbold.

Also, he mentioned Frozen Specialties, Inc., which moved a $15 million machine from Connecticut to Archbold, creating new jobs here.

Wyse said there are still 55 employees working in the Cooper Standard building, which has been scheduled to close for months.

The company’s current best estimate is that production will stop in the former ITT Automotive building in March.

Dennis Howell, Archbold village administrator, said village officials had a good prospect for a new tenant for the building, but the deal fell through with the poor economy.

Wyse said while he is disappointed, “it could be worse.

“Imagine if ConAgra had not decided to stay.”

The company, based in Omaha, Neb., had announced closing the Archbold factory in 2007, but then reversed its decision.

Wyse said if ConAgra had shut down, it would have meant a 5% to 8% loss in village income tax revenue.

Wyse also discussed an unnamed food-processing firm which has indicated an interest in the village.

Archbold is in competition with Tecumseh, Mich., to host the company.

Wyse said Archbold has earned the right to make the last pitch to the company.

Staffing

Wyse and Howell discussed the village’s own employment picture.

Wyse said in the last two years, village officials realized budgets were going to be tight, and left some open positions within village government vacant.

The street department is down one employee, and has been for a year, he said.

The police department has been one short for two years; the wastewater treatment plant has been short one employee for a year and a half; and the water treatment plant staff has been down two workers for the last 10 years.

The engineer department has been down two, but one worker was recently hired.

Wyse said the village administrative offices have been down one worker, but he expects the village will begin advertising for someone to fill that position within the next 30 days.


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