Thursday, October 4, 2007

City Council Meeting October 4

The City of Wilmer welcomed the small delegation from Unilever/CONOPCO with some refreshments and an 85% ten year tax abatement on their planned $30M facility in Sunridge Business Park on Mayor Hudson's former property on Goode Road.

The meeting started promptly at 7:30 by the clock on the wall (7:27 network time) and was completely represented with Councilman Lowe providing the invocation. The open items report was approved with a single comment from Tiny Lange about some items ageing over 180+ days.

First item on the agenda was a presentation by Al Sorrells about a proposed development at the northeast corner of I45 and Mars Road. The plan called for 575,000 high-end warehouse facility with approximately 5-15000 sq ft f office space. Although no action was requested of the city council, Councilman Wickliffe took the opportunity to question Mr. Sorrells about plumbing under I45 and the water loop connection. The proposed development plan called for some retail development, but Mr. Sorrells discounted that possibility based on "the number of roofs". The council seemed to agree that increasing housing to support retail operations continues to be a problem.

Atmos Energy's proposed rate increase was soundly defeated by Councilman Wickliffe's deference to the Texas Railroad Commission's final decision on the rate proposal. Atmos representative Mr. A.Z. Drones proposed that Atmos would waive cost recovery for legal expenses ($10M) if the City approved the rate increase, while all rates would remain stable pending final order from the TRC when rates would be normalized throughout the service area. Mr. Drones explained that inaction on the part of the council was effectively an approval and that the City's gas users wouldn't be indemnified from the approved rate increase legal expense cost recovery. Wickliffe wanted to consult with the City Attorney about the matter.

Next Vincent Santella of CONOPCO, the Unilever subsidiary handling about 95% of Unilever's real estate holdings in the US, presented their proposal for an 85% ten year tax abatement ina brief overview of the company. Unilever's 179,000 employees handle over 400 brands world wide including a number of food brands, health and consumer products and is consolidating distribution facilities formerly segregated by product line. The 800,000 square foot facility will bring 110 jobs to Wilmer and cost approximately $30M, adding $200,000 annually to Wilmer's tax base (after the abatement).

Last item on the agenda before adjournment was the consideration of opening a fiduciary account to hold First Industrial's prepayment funds to be disbursed to TXDOT upon demand. Councilman Wickliffe questioned how the funds would be insured, citing possible bank failure creating a liability for the City of Wilmer and wanting to talk to the City Attorney about the contracts. All of the funds were to be provided by First Industrial for use by TXDOT. The proposed agreement was drafted with City Attorney Rob Dillard and seemed straight forward to Council Members Rollison, Evans and Lange with Wickliffe against and Lowe and Hudson abstaining. After the appropriate documents were duly executed, at 8:22 the meeting was adjourned to the refreshments provided.