NORMAL — The town of Normal is supporting the addition of more territory to a local enterprise zone to include property on which Brandt Industries is planning a $35 million expansion of its manufacturing facility.
The Normal City Council voted unanimously Monday night in approving the proposed expansion of the enterprise zone's boundary.
The action was among the first to include new council members Stan Nord and Karyn Smith, who were sworn in at the start of the meeting.
The enterprise zone is currently 14.1 square miles and can be up to 15.
Last month, the McLean County Board signed off on the proposed enterprise zone expansion. The measure will also need the approval of the Bloomington City Council, Ford County Board and Gibson City Council.
The Canadian company purchased the former Kongskilde plant in 2017 in a deal that included paying $2 million for the site, according to county records. The company also agreed to purchase four adjacent parcels for possible expansion.
The company also is in line to receive a total of five years of property tax abatements worth at least $637,000, plus $1.1 million in state income tax credits.
Since Brandt Industries is not located within the corporate limits of the town of Normal, there are no incentives offered by the town.
Smith questioned providing a sales tax exemption for Brandt after Nord suggested holding Connect Transit accountable for changes that he and several public commentors at the meeting said would affect low-income people who cannot afford to drive the most.
"When we're talking about saving money for low-income people in the same meeting that we're talking about concessions for a billion dollar company I think there is a question of where our priorities are," said Smith.
Nord suggested the town withhold its $75,000 monthly payment to Connect Transit until the organization comes before the council to address community concerns over Connect Transit's board recently approving fare hikes effective Oct. 1 and the termination of the Olive route July 1.
"We are looking into options; not sure what they will yield immediately because some of these things take time," said Council Member Chemberly Cummings. "Let's be less accusatory and work together."
After discussing the matter for more than an hour, the council approved payment of town expenditures as of May 1, with Nord casting the lone dissenting vote.
In other business, the council unanimously approved accepting a $40,340 state grant to fund the McLean County Route 66 Committee's creation of an archive of local attractions, buildings and other landmarks along the historic "mother road" in McLean County.
The action allows the town of Normal to make payments associated with the grant work, for which the grant proceeds will reimburse the town 100 percent.