Effingham City Council has taken another step closer to buying 153 acres of land on the south end of town. The city council has approved a budgetary measure that is one of the last steps in finalizing their purchase from Hawickhorst Land Trust.

The land being sold is west of Route 45, near John Boos & Co. and the Effingham County Memorial Airport. The price for the is $18,000 an acre or just over $2.7 million.

The city is buying the land as part of its economic development program, though they don’t have concrete plans for the property yet.

Bernardi Securities, a firm that specializes in this kind of bond, was hired to manage the bonds sale.

“What we were doing was making amendments to the budget so the city could receive the bond money,” said City Administrator Steve Miller.

Though the city initially approved selling enough bonds to completely cover the cost of the purchase, they have since decided to use about $1 million in existing funds.

“This last year, we had to hold up several projects due to COVID and the unknowns in our revenues,” said Miller. “We’re using a million dollars that were earmarked for other projects.”

The “projects” that weren’t done in 2020 include things like street resurfacing and upgrading some city sidewalks. Miller added that some maintenance projects were done, like work on the city’s sewer and water systems.

Miller says that they anticipate receiving funds from the bond sale on Feb. 23 and he hopes to close the deal sometime within a week or two after that.

The city council also took the opportunity to do some housekeeping on the city’s budget and amended the budget to reflect the most recent changes to the series of bonds they sold in 2017 to fund the Police Station, the new Fire Station 2, and a storage shed for the city’s Public Works Department.

The cleanup of this year’s budget came at a time when the city is working on next year’s budget.

“We’re really in the throws of budgeting right now,” said Miller. “We’re working on it on a daily basis.”

Miller said the city’s various departments have submitted their expected budget requirements and that he is in the process of meeting with the mayor and city commissioners for their feedback.

Once a draft is finalized by city staff, the city will hold a public meeting where residents of Effingham can come and voice any concerns or opinions they have about the budget. The public hearing will be held in the spring, ahead of the May 1 start of the city’s fiscal year.

In other matters:

  • The city formally approved a special use permit to allow Michael Brummer and Midwest Ventures & Properties, LLC to rent the second floor loft apartments above The Exchange as short term rentals. The Exchange is a coworking space on the corner of Jefferson and Banker that’s slated to open in March.
  • The city council appointed two people to sit on the board of directors for the Effingham Regional Growth Alliance: City Commissioner Hank Stephens and Economic Development Director Todd Hull. The Alliance is a nonprofit public-private partnership that aims to The two men are continuing in this role, having both served on the board for several years.
  • The city approved two change orders for unexpected costs to the Waste Water Treatment Plant’s UV Disinfection Project and the Sewer Relining Project. The changes were $4,250 for the Water Treatment Plant and $579 for the Relining Project. The council had to approve the later charge despite its small amount because the project has already required $10,000 dollars more than it was originally approved for.

Andrew Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or andrew.adams@effinghamdailynews.com

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Andrew Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151 ext. 132 or andrew.adams@effinghamdailynews.com