During Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, the Council approved purchasing land for a new public services complex and beginning the process of relocating the environmental services and public works departments.
When discussing land for the complex, Assistant City Manager Megan Crouch explained that the proposed property is off of Wire Road and will cost the City around $1.8 million.
“We looked at a number of [properties] closer [to downtown],” Crouch said. “The challenge with closer-in properties is it goes from $30,000 an acre to $100,000 or $200,000 an acre. The current Environmental Services, Public Works and Boykin Community Center sits on not much more than 10 acres combined.”
The proposed property is 63 acres in size and has only one acre of wetlands, with the other 62 acres being flat, useable space, Crouch said. Since it is farther out from the City, it is less likely to disturb major subdivisions, as many City services begin as early as 4 a.m. and can continue well into the night. The City expects a budget of $13 million for construction.
This project will be constructed in fiscal year 2022, Crouch said. Improvements to Boykin Community Center will be designed in fiscal year 2022 and constructed in fiscal year 2023, including a 20,000-square-foot library, the Auburn Center for African-American History and Culture, a recreation center including an indoor and an outdoor pool, parking and an expansion to daycare facilities. The current budget for the Boykin Community Center is around $15 million.
The Council unanimously approved $867,000 for the environmental services and public works departments relocation and $1.8 million for the property purchase.
At the beginning of the Council meeting, City Manager Jim Buston announced that the ETC Institute is giving the City an award for service delivery. The City has ranked in the top 10% of all cities for citizen satisfaction and ranked as best in the country for citizen satisfaction in trash pickup.
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Mayor Anders announced that the City’s Christmas parade will be on Sunday. Participants are asked to maintain social distancing during the event.
Anders asked that citizens continue to practice safe measures and follow state guidelines, as COVID numbers continue to increase.
When discussing a tax abatement for a new SiO2 Medical Products, Inc. building, Ward 5 Council member Steven Dixon asked for clarification on what the abatement covered.
Buston explained that the tax abatement only applies to the property tax that the City would receive. The company applying for the tax abatement creates vials for COVID-19 vaccines and requires additional space for increased production.
“This is a very important company for the City of Auburn,” Buston said. “We are thankful that they continue to want to develop here and continue to hire folks in our area. It’s a very lucrative project for us overall.”
Economic Development Director Phillip Dunlap explained that SiO2 is looking to increase production from three or four million vials per month to 10 to 12 million vials per month. The new building, though initially leased to SiO2, is being built on SiO2 land and will have the option to be bought outright at the end of the lease. The company continues to expand and hire locally, he said.
The Council unanimously approved the tax abatement.
The Council also unanimously approved purchasing two new trucks for trash services at a cost of $358,000. Environmental Services Director Catrina Cook said that two more trucks will be in the 2021 budget, which will allow environmental services to cover a greater area more efficiently when collecting trash.
During Citizens’ Open Forum, three residents spoke to the Council against a proposed prison for Tallassee. A group of concerned Alabama citizens have contacted Auburn University, as it owns land adjacent to the project. The residents asked that the City be transparent with any possible information shared or any promises made. They also asked that the Council join other municipalities in requesting a public hearing for the project.
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