By DAVID GREEN
Morenci city council expects to soon rent the vacant industrial building it owns at the back of Wakefield Park.
Vance Jacobs of Frontier Insulation intends to begin an operation to stuff “bean bag” chairs with foam pellets in the building located at 599 W. Chestnut St.
Morenci mayor Keith Pennington told council members at the Dec. 13 meeting that Jacobs is in the process of making arrangements to fill chairs for another manufacturer, but he wants a rental commitment from the city before equipment is ordered.
City administrator/clerk Renée Schroeder said Jacobs will employ three people in the first three months of operation and he expects to add a fourth person after that.
Jacobs has plans to fill about a thousand chairs a day, with a semi-truck carrying foam pellets arriving every day. Jacobs will continue to use the former Roth Fabricating building on East Coomer Street for other operations.
Pennington said the previous renter of the city’s building paid $2,000 a month, but Jacobs is seeking a different arrangement through a triple net lease.
With this lease, Pennington said, Jacobs would not only pay a monthly lease price, but he would also cover the cost of taxes, utilities and maintenance.
Jacobs is willing to sign a five-year lease agreement for $1,000 a month. Pennington said in the past property taxes cost about $500 a month.
“I still think it’s a very fair proposition for us,” he said. “Since the building was last rented, industrial rent prices have fallen steeply. There are lots of empty industrial buildings that are being rented out very cheaply.”
That’s one of the reasons Alpine Manufacturing is moving from Morenci to Hudson, he said.
In addition, he said, personal property taxes will be levied on the equipment Jacobs brings into the building.
Pennington said he expects that a lease agreement will be drawn up for council’s approval at the Jan. 10 meeting.
Council voted unanimously to move forward with a lease agreement, with Joe Varga absent from the meeting.
Schroeder said Jacobs is interested in adding Styrofoam to the list of materials accepted at Morenci’s recycling center. Foam packaging, coffee cups, etc., could be recycled for his projects.
“That’s one thing we don’t take at our recycling center and we’ve had many inquiries,” she said.
SERVER—Council voted 5-1 to spend up to $5,500 to buy a new computer server. Councilor Tracy Schell opposed the motion.
With the existing server not functioning, only one person at a time can access the FundWare software that is used for a variety of purposes such as water billing, payroll and accounts receivable.
Treasurer trainee Crystal White said that if she is working on billing, for example, Diane Varga is unable to post receipts for cash coming in.
Receipts could be hand written and posted later, Schell said. She opposed the purchase because it isn’t covered by the current budget.
“We have to have it and it’s a good idea to update equipment,” Varga said.
White also hopes to upgrade anti-virus software and Microsoft Office with the $5,500 allotted.
ON CALL—Council voted 6-0 to retain the services of treasurer Stephanie Mossing, if needed, after she leaves the city’s employment at the end of this year.
With city hall closed for a week due to the investigation of the missing Skelton children, Mossing’s training with White fell behind, Pennington explained. He anticipates Mossing would be able to assist for an hour or two if White needs help closing out property taxes or other tasks.
Mossing will be paid time and a half based on her current rate, which will come out to $24.87 an hour if she’s called to help.
FIRE DEPARTMENT—Council accepted the resignation of member Josh Oltz, approved a 60-day leave of absence for Steve Meller and accepted the application of Nathan Rutkowski.
ASBESTOS—Councilors approved the payment of $108 for 10 extra samples needed for asbestos assessment at the former Grange Hall. The building will be demolished in 2011.
POLICE—Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks said that some consideration will have to be given to his budget for the extra time demands from the Skelton children case.
The extra costs would have been much higher if his officers had not volunteered time toward the effort. There were times when officers insisted that they remain on duty for no pay.
Schell thanked the police and fire departments for the extra effort shown during the early days of the crisis.