Springfield aldermen have agreed to subsidize a project to adorn downtown buildings with large painted murals.
Following a 10-0 vote Tuesday, the city will set aside $50,000 from the central area tax increment finance district.
Mayor Houston didn’t want TIF funds put toward the public art project, but says there’s no sense in prolonging his opposition to something aldermen unanimously support:
HOUSTON: “I think that money could be better spent, but the City Council made a decision in terms of thinking this is a good expenditure of money. I think the murals are great. I have no problem with it. But I also know it’s $50,000 that’s not going to create any increment for the city of Springfield.”
Ald. Joe McMenamin calls $50,000 for the murals a “drop in the bucket” compared to big-ticket projects on a list to receive TIF funds. McMenamin says the mayor should be more supportive of TIF projects aldermen bring to the Council. He adds that the city has previously funded improvement projects that won’t pay into the downtown TIF district:
MCMENAMIN: “The landscaping improvements – they don’t generate any tax revenue for the city. That’s all on public property. We put a new roof on the fire station – that’s a building that generates no real estate taxes. So it’s really a false argument. But, in fact, I think the murals on the buildings will create value, potentially, and make more valuable real estate. So I disagree with the mayor on two things.”
McMenamin joined Alds. Sam Cahnman and Cory Jobe in their push to approve the $50,000 requested by Downtown Springfield, Inc.
DSI’s “Artification” mural project is already underway. Local artist Michael Mayosky is painting a portrait of Abraham Lincoln on the north wall of The Alamo tavern on 5th Street. It’s expected to be completed by mid-July.
READ MORE about DSI’s public art initiative
WATCH A VIDEO presentation of mural ideas by local artist Troy Freeman