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City ponders clock tower funding

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By Johnathan Ryan

Lancaster City Council is moving forward on a project to create a monument to Springs Industries’ Lancaster Plant and the employees who worked at the plant for many years.

While the mill is now gone, its tower clock has been refurbished and the city is now hoping to place it inside a monument that will stand somewhere in downtown Lancaster.

City Administrator Helen Sowell said the majority of council wants the monument on the island in Elm Street that faces Main Street from the west. That would be part of an effort to beautify the southern part of downtown, she said.

Council entertained two requests for proposals – one from Blackmon Realty and Co. for $291,200 and the other from Perception Builders for $278,098 – to build the monument.

Council voted unanimously to move forward in considering the proposals but how the monument will be funded hasn’t been decided.

Some on council propose funding the project entirely from the city’s hospitality tax fund, or taking some from that fund and the downtown development fund, which also is funded by hospitality taxes.

The city’s hospitality tax fund comes from a 1 percent tax diners pay on prepared food and beverage within city of Lancaster.

Councilman John Howard suggested that the city seek grants to help pay for the monument. He was leery of completely funding it through hospitality tax funds.

“The only caution I put before you is that there is a chance that it may directly affect other things folks have in mind and that might come up next year,” Howard said, referring to use of hospitality tax funds.

But Councilman Danny O’Brien said he thinks it would be OK to use hospitality tax reserves to fund the project in full. He said council has had the project in its hands long enough and needs to move forward on it.

The city has $766,697 in hospitality tax funds set aside in reserves. The tax typically generates between $500,000 and $700,000 in revenue each budget year. The money is used to fund requests that will promote tourism in Lancaster and its surrounding areas in accordance with state law.

Sowell said the two firms that submitted proposals to build the monument will be asked to make presentations to council’s clock tower committee within the next two weeks. The committee may have a recommendation for council to consider at its April 8 meeting.

Contact Johnathan Ryan at 416-8416 or jryan@thelancasternews.com