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The Billings City Council will decide Monday whether the Magic City is ready to support Cajun chicken.

As part of the consent agenda for Monday’s business meeting — the City Council’s final scheduled meeting for 2014 begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall — the council is being asked to approve a $70,838.63 tax increment financing payment to Big Sky King Properties to help construct a Popeyes Louisiana Chicken restaurant at the corner of King Avenue East and South Billings Boulevard.

The project is expected to create 16 jobs. The payment represents 45 percent of the $157,419.18 in taxes generated over the nine years remaining in the TIF district. That’s the maximum payment allowed.

Denny and Jan Rehberg are the franchisees for the project, the first free-standing Popeyes in Montana.

According to the application for the TIF program — which helps businesses with construction and other costs in targeted neighborhoods, in this case the South Billings Urban Renewal District — awards are considered on a dozen criteria, including:

  • Economic stimulus.
  • Tax generation, as estimated by the County Assessor’s office.
  • Employment generation, including construction jobs.
  • Elimination of blight, the “project’s direct and indirect impact on the physical and fiscal condition within the district.”
  • Project feasibility, which is the “demonstration of market demand for the project.”
  • The developer’s ability to perform, the “applicant’s capability to undertake the relative complexities of the project based on past performance on similar or comparable projects.”
  • Timely completion. The project is scheduled for completion in spring 2015.
  • Payment of taxes. All property taxes and assessments on the project property must be paid at the time of the application.

“It is hoped,” wrote Planning and Community Services Director Candi Millar in a report to the City Council, “that this project will serve as a catalyst for the continued private sector investment development of the (Popelka Commerce Center) subdivision as well as the district.”

She called the project the result of “a recruitment effort coupled with the incentive programs available from the (South Billings Urban Renewal Association) and the city.”

During Monday’s meeting, the City Council will also consider approving $47,907 in TIF assistance for developing a school-based health center at Orchard Elementary School.

Other Monday agenda items include:

  • Approval of Mayor Tom Hanel’s appointments to 17 city boards or commissions. Of the 49 vacant positions, 20 will remain open because nobody applied.
  • A vote on a $175,590 flight information display system for the airport terminal building
  • A public hearing and resolution for annexing about 1.6 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection of Shiloh Road and Central Avenue
  • A public hearing and resolution on creating a special improvement district for Colton Boulevard improvements between 38th Street West and Zimmerman Trail. At the same time, the City Council is being asked to approve a $162,780 professional services contract for engineering design and construction administration for the improvements.
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