The newly elected members of the Lebanon City Council didn’t have much time to ease their way into their positions Monday as they hit the ground running by approving a more than $1.5 million expansion project for Detroit Tool Metal Products.
The project will significantly increase the size of the company’s current manufacturing and storage facility in the city’s Industrial Park on Auglaize Drive.
The issue has been a source of controversy since it was brought up in 2011. A portion of the funding for the project, about $900,000, will be borrowed from the city’s Electric Reserve fund as a match for a $1 million federal economic development grant. DTMP will kick in $300,000.
The council approved a contract for the project Monday with Rich Kramer Construction of Springfield, which submitted a base bid of $1.5 million. Lebanon City Administrator Chris Heard said the bid came in “considerably lower” than anticipated, and he expects construction to begin in May and be completed late this year.
Members of council who had voted against the project in the past because the funds were coming from the city’s Electric Reserve Fund said they still might not like where the matching grant funds were coming from, but they felt it was a positive project for Lebanon.
“I voted against it because of where the money was coming from,” Ward 3 Councilman Dennis Elmore said. “However, I know that it is a good project. I think a couple of councils ago, the city committed to this, and we are obligated to it. We want to show that we are stable and do what we say we are going to do. With that being said, I will support this project. I just want to clarify that in the past, I was against this because of where the money was coming from. I am not against the project whatsoever.”
Elmore’s fellow Ward 3 representative, Councilman Brian Anthony, echoed Elmore’s feelings.
“I second that,” he said. “I voted no on where they money came from, but it is an important project. I would, however, urge the council that from now on, anything brought from the Electric Reserve be considered very highly. I have asked for a 2 1/2 percent decrease in electric rates several times, which would be about $570,000, $600,000, and have been told no because this money is for emergencies and disasters, but yet we get into it as soon as we can for projects.”
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