• 64°

Council approves rent reduction

Rent in the Ironton City Center will remain half price for another six-months, but will return to the full rate afterwards.

Meeting in regular session Thursday, the Ironton City Council passed the final reading of an ordinance reducing rent by half from the full rate of about $7 a square foot counting utilities. The measure was passed by a 6-1 vote with Councilman John Elam casting the

dissenting vote.

Cuts were originally made in 1996 to encourage businesses to locate in the building. The building filled and no more reductions were made until 18 months ago when only a few businesses remained, Council Chairman Jesse Roberts said.

The reduction was enacted to help businesses survive and applies only to businesses in the building when the

legislation is passed, Mayor Bob Cleary said. Currently, there are five businesses in the center including Patrick Insurance Agency, Century 21 Real Estate and Divine Occasions Gift Shop.

Now is the fullest the center has been in quite awhile, although two locations are still available, Cleary said. Council agreed that this should be the last time that rent is reduced.

"This is not a new problem," Councilman Jim Tordiff said. "We have heard concerns from downtown businesses that it isn't a level playing field.

"I think we have provided the walk-in traffic we said we would. At full rate, it is still pretty much a bargain."

In other business last night, a resolution outlining the 2003 tax budget was passed and submitted to the Lawrence County Auditor. This is just a formality certifying how much real estate and property taxes can be preliminarily budgeted for next year, Cindy Anderson, city financial director, said.

Including all the funds, the estimated 2003 tax revenues are $478,898, about $7,000 more than last year. Michael Caldwell/The Ironton Tribune