November 28, 2014

New AT&T deal means more revenue for city

Tax abatement approved for Magline, wind turbine request approved

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STANDISH — A deal between the city of Standish and AT&T that allows the cell phone service provider to place antennas atop the city’s water tower has been renegotiated, which will net an additional $2,000 in revenue per month for the city.

City Manager Curt Hillman told council members during their Jan. 20 meeting that AT&T previously had two antennas on the towers, with plans to add four more. Hillman said the city was receiving $792 per month, but reworked the deal to bring the monthly payments up to $2,800.

Hillman said the city felt it should have been receiving more than the $792 over the past 10 to 15 years the antennas have been in place, and the city’s attorney, Ken Myles, wanted to pursue a higher payment from AT&T than the $2,800.

“We talked about some bigger numbers and they basically told us, ‘Don’t dream too much,’” Hillman said.

Mayor Mark Winslow said the city should not press its luck, and should accept the deal.

“I think we should just settle here and take the $2,800,” he said. “It’s a lot more than we were getting before.”

A motion to approve the new lease amount was made by council member Tosha Tunney and approved 6-0 by the council. Vi Cook was excused from the meeting.

During the Jan. 20 meeting, an industrial facility tax abatement was granted for Magline Inc.

Allen Martin, the Magline CFO, said the company’s business had been growing over the past four years and wanted to add some new robotic equipment, for which it was requesting the tax abatement.

The city granted the 50-percent abatement request, which will save Magline $13,991 in personal property tax payments over six years, while also generating $13,991 for the city in new revenue over those six years.

Martin said the new equipment would allow Magline to create one new position.

In other news from the city council meeting, council gave businessman Robert Wiltse the green light to install two wind turbines measuring about 8 feet tall and 6 feet across and six solar panels on top of a building he owns on Main Street in Standish, where a Chinese restaurant and flag store are currently located.

Wiltse gave a presentation to the council before he received the approval, describing the company that produces the wind turbines and solar panels, and how they can be used to produce energy for a home or business. Wiltse said he hopes to sell the products, which are manufactured by a company named WindEnergy 7, and believes if people could see the two turbines on the building, it could bring them into the store.

“We anticipate a lot of people stopping in and asking a lot of questions,” he said.

The energy system would create about 2 kilowatts, according to Wiltse, and would run “incredibly quiet.” If the system creates enough power, Wiltse said he would receive energy credits from Consumers Energy.

“In most states, and in Michigan, if you are generating enough energy from your wind turbines and solar panels, the excess power turns your meter back, you get credits from Consumers Energy,” he said.

Wiltse said with the amount of trees and structures in the city of Standish, he did not believe many city residents would want to buy the systems.

Nonetheless, his request did lead city officials to begin discussions about working with the planning commission about an ordinance regarding alternative energy sources.

“Right now our zoning ordinance is totally moot to the issue for those sort of things,” Hillman told the Independent. “That’s the sort of thing we’ll have to come up with, some sort of zoning ordinance to address that.”

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