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Council waiting on numbers from Ehrhardt group

The Jefferson City Council is still waiting on specific numbers from one potential conference center developer.

At the City Council meeting Monday, the council initially expected to hear a presentation from representatives of the Ehrhardt Hospitality Group to answer council questions on their conference center proposal, but interim City Administrator Drew Hilpert said the group’s attorney indicated at the beginning of the council meeting that he didn’t have time to prepare.

Last week, the council voted unanimously to direct Hilpert to get specific numbers from the Ehrhardts by today. The needed information includes the total cost of the project, how much the developer will invest in the project, the funding gap for the project and what incentives the developer is requesting to fill that gap.

The funding gap is the difference between the total price tag on a proposal and the city’s $9 million contribution.

Hilpert said he expects to have that information by the end of regular business hours today.

In mid-November, the City Council voted 6-4 to move conference center proposals from both Jefferson City-based Farmer Holding Co. and Hannibal-based Ehrhardt Hospitality Group forward into the contract negotiation phase. There is no timeline for completing the next phase, with Hilpert saying it could take from two months to two years before contracts are ready to be presented.

Farmer Holding Co. has proposed a $36 million hotel and conference center at the Capital Mall, while Ehrhardt Hospitality has proposed a $24.6 million hotel and conference center at the West McCarty Street site, which is owned by the state.

In other business, the council unanimously approved an annexation agreement with Holts Summit, which is part of an overall agreement for the city to provide sewer services, also approved Monday. The agreement establishes a border outside the limits of both cities that neither will cross. Hilpert said essentially the city will agree not to annex any farther north of that boundary line and Holts Summit will not annex any farther south.

The council also approved a bill to change the residency requirements for all department directors.

In May, the council approved a bill expanding residency requirements for certain department directors to a 15-mile radius around Jefferson City. But that expansion did not apply to the public works director, city administrator, city clerk, fire chief or police chief.

The bill approved Monday will not force current employees who are promoted to a director position to move within city limits if they do not already live within the limits, instead stating that if the person moves at any point while employed with the city, they will move within city limits.

The bill also allows the council the option to provide a similar exception to the residency requirement to new employees.

The bill was approved 8-1, with 5th Ward Councilman Ralph Bray casting the sole opposing vote. Fifth Ward Councilman Larry Henry was not present at Monday’s meeting.

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