Morris will provide loans to local church, MDDP

MORRIS – The Living Water Church of the Nazarene in Morris wants to add new doors, new bathrooms, new awnings and complete other improvements at its downtown location, and it has turned to the city for help.

The Morris Finance and Administration Committee agreed Tuesday to loan the church $55,000 from the city’s Tax Increment Financing fund to complete the improvements, pending approval from City Council.

“Mayor and committee, thank you so much. We really appreciate this,” Pastor Steven Cook told the committee.

The loan comes from the city’s TIF fund, which includes funds generated by the city’s TIF district, or an area in which property values are frozen.

Morris’s current TIF district’s property values are frozen at the value they were assessed in 1986, when the district was created.

Tax money generated from the difference between the frozen value and what would be the current value of TIF properties goes into a special TIF fund. The TIF money then can be used to make capital improvements within the district, like the ones needed at the church.

The church is located on Jefferson Street, so it resides within Morris’s TIF district.

Among the scheduled improvements is renovating the church’s marquee, which is leftover from when the building was used as Morris’s movie theater.

“That marquee has been there for years and needs some improvements,” Morris Mayor Richard Kopczick said.

The church’s TIF loan will be for seven years with a 1 percent interest rate, he said.

The loan term had to be set for seven years since Morris’s current TIF district is set to expire by 2021 and the fund will need to be closed.

The committee approved a separate $12,500 TIF loan for the Morris Downtown Development Partnership for a new informational sign to be built on Route 47.

The sign will broadcast local events and direct those driving on Route 47 to Morris’s downtown area, MDDP Executive Director Julie Applegate said to the committee.

Originally, Applegate asked the city for a TIF loan of more than $20,000 for the sign, but said MDDP received several donations from local organizations which will help with the cost.

The TIF loan will be termed at five years with a 1 percent interest rate.

“We’re working on other ways to save some funds, but the cost of the sign itself is about $15,000,” Applegate said. “We certainly hope as we get other donations that we’ll be able to pay it back very quickly.”