Council says no to shops and offices, yes to business
Plans county commissioners had to use the former Straub building in Marion for a new shop and offices got a resounding thumbs down from Marion city council Monday, as members unanimously rejected a conditional use permit for the property.
County commission chair Randy Dallke, though unhappy, said he expected the council’s vote.
“What’s new? I knew that was going to happen,” Dallke said.
Mayor Todd Heitschmidt moved to deny the permit.
“It’s still about creating jobs and having jobs, it’s not about the tax base,” Heitschmidt said.
Heitschmidt further expounded on his view after the meeting.
“It truly affects all taxpayers in the county when new jobs aren’t created to replace those jobs that Straub left,” he said.
A recently-completed study commissioned by economic development director Randy Collett factored heavily into the council’s decision.
“I’ve read Randy Collett’s economic study report and found it very persuasive,” council member Chris Costello said.
That study, researched by Steven Robb of Municipal Consulting in Pittsburg, shows net revenues to all taxing entities including the city, the county, the school district, the hospital district, and the state, are $1.2 million if the Straub building is sold to a business with a five-year tax abatement plan.
Net revenues if the county takes over the building as a shop would be $390,000.
“You also have the fact that you have sales tax,” Robb said. “Over a period of time, the difference is substantial.”
Straub International CEO Larry Straub and president Ron Straub were at the meeting. Larry Straub reacted to the decision.
“It came as a bit of a surprise,” he said. “We’ll just probably put it up for sale. We are a little disappointed it took seven or eight months to get to this point and we feel we spun our wheels.”
Ron Straub said they would work with the city to find a buyer for the building.
The issue has dragged on for months, pitting the two governing bodies against one another over whether the building would be better used for county purposes or kept available for a new business bringing jobs and tax money to Marion.
Planning commission members twice recommended approval of the conditional use permit, with certain modifications. A petition filed by neighboring property owners seeking to prevent approval led city council to send the recommendation back to the planning commission for further review. The planning commission again recommended approval.