Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hearing/Briefing on STAR Bond District Set for Monday

This week should see some of the first official steps taken to create the new STAR bond district for the destination development targeting Marion.

The Illinois Department of Revenue will meet with local officials and community leaders at 7 p.m. tomorrow at John A. Logan Community College in O'Neal Auditorium.

The notice explains the purpose:
Department staff will outline its role in the project, discuss what we have done to date, talk generally about where we are headed, and seek input from local leaders.

Basically, it's a technical briefing and not any grand announcement from the developers.

Mike Clemons, a communications and policy guru with the agency explained Friday that the agency is on goal to promulgate the rules by Labor Day. The agency and local officials have already been meeting and will continue to work together on this project.

"We're trying not to be the impediment," he added explaining the law makes the agency responsible for reviewing and authorizing the Marion district.

The biggest problems so far is that the law is complex, occasionally confusing, and since it's the first one of its kind in Illinois, the agency has had to start from almost scratch in terms of writing the rules needed to implement the law.

Still, the Labor Day deadline matches previous comments by developer Bruce Holland earlier this month to the Southern Illinoisan that plans would get underway in September. Mayor Robert Butler also gave September as the start date in an interview this past week for an upcoming story in Marion Living.

Meanwhile, tomorrow's hearing will preempt the normal Marion city council meeting which is being moved to Wednesday. According to City Administrator Gail West the council is expected to take the first steps toward implementing the plan by annexing some of the land to be involved that's not already within the city limits.

One of the next steps will be for the council to officially find that the land in question meets the qualifications for a STAR bonds district. This step is but a technicality since the legislation was specifically written with the Marion tract in mind.

As far as details as to what may come, the public may get its best idea yet at the upcoming Community Leaders Breakfast sponsored by the Southern Illinoisan at 7 a.m., Wednesday, Sept. 8, with Holland himself as one of the keynote speakers. Tickets are $15 and be purchased at

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