Randolph County and Chester have been named Enterprise Zones by the Illinois Department of Commerce, a designation meant to boost commerce by making businesses eligible for state and local tax incentives.
The designation will take effect in January. Chester Mayor Tom Page made the announcement at the Sept. 3 city council meeting. Monroe County has also been approved.
Under the program, businesses located or expanding within specific zoned areas of Chester will eligible for state and local tax incentives and exemptions. Specifically, a business that wants to build or expand in the designated zone could submit an application to Chester and buy building materials without paying any state or local sales tax.
Other incentives include utility tax rate exemptions up to 5% and a 6.25% state tax exemption on all tangible personal property which is consumed in the process of manufacturing.
Page praised the work of the Chester Planning Commission and City Clerk Bethany Berner, for their diligence on the Enterprise Zone project.
Ongoing street work
The council approved a motion from Alderman Mike Blechle, chairman of the Streets and Alleys Committee, for the city to begin a renewed oil and chip program for some side streets. He wants to start this fall with Cole Street, Lochhead Drive, Third Street and Fairway Lane. The work would entail a single coat of oil, laid down by Illini Asphalt at a cost of $14,049.
Blechle suggested the other aldermen to look at roads within their wards and make suggestions to his Committee for 2020, pointing out that the city has not done any oil and chip for several years.
Blechle also reported that in 2022, Chester will be in line for more blacktop to be applied through a state program. In this case, the streets chosen must connect to a state route to be eligible. He suggested High Street as one possibility.
• Commissioners heard that work is progressing on the Center Right Turn Lane Entrance Project on Route 3 North and the council approved a $71,676.16 payment to Red Dot Construction and Equipment Rentals Inc.
•The resurfacing project on Route 150 east is progressing with the finishing layer currently being applied.
• The final sidewalk repair has been completed near the front of St. Mary's Help of Christians Church and School.
City annexes land
The council also agreed to annex a parcel of land contiguous to the Manor at Craig Farms Assisted Living Facility into the corporate limits of the city. The Manor has plans to install a solar panel field on this property which would power their entire complex. Southern Illinois Solar Energy will be installing the panels. The Council gave their approval for the annex.
The council approved City Clerk Bethany Berner's recommendation to renew Chester's agreement with Aetna Health Insurance, which covers city employees. The agreement includes an increase of 5% and includes an agreement with Unum Insurance for dental/vision/life insurance, instead of Delta Dental.
• Page urged councilmen to attend the Chester Bridge meeting on Sept. 17 at the Chester Eagles. This meeting is called to discuss the replacement of the Chester Bridge.
• Page expressed gratitude to Chester Police Chief Bobby Helmers and the entire police department for representing the city at the funeral and memorial service for fallen State Trooper Nicholas Hopkins of Waterloo.
• The next meeting of the Chester City Council will be at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16. The public is encouraged to attend.