Metropolis demands $2 million Laidlaw loan payment

Metropolis demands $2 million Laidlaw loan payment
By: Carly O'Keefe
Metropolis, IL - The Laidlaw Corporation will have to pay back a loan to the city of Metropolis ahead of schedule. City leaders voted unanimously Monday night to demand payment following the company's announcement that it plans to lay off 70 employees from its Metropolis plant.
The $2 million loan was offered as part of an incentives package to Laidlaw in 2001 for a expansion within Metropolis city limits.
Laidlaw Corporation President and Metropolis Plant Manager Arthur Boykin says the council's decision won't negatively affect the company.
"Laidlaw Corporation is financially sound," said Boykin. "That is a debt that Laidlaw owes and Laidlaw is prepared to pay it."
However, Boykin says he had hoped the city would not call in the loan ahead of schedule. Boykin says the availability of the low-interest loan would help sell the soon-to-be vacant Laidlaw building.
"Leaving the loan out there would have benefited our potential buyer to make the building more attractive to someone else who might be interested in coming in," said Boykin.
But, Metropolis Mayor Billy McDaniel says it is not up to Laidlaw to offer the city's incentives to a prospective buyer.
"If they have a successful buyer come in and wants to work with the city, the city is always willing to work with potential employers," said McDaniel.
A second unanimous vote on the same issue could lead to Laidlaw paying more than the balance of the loan. The council voted to hire an outside attorney to pursue more of the money the city paid out.
"We want to look into recouping some of the incentives that were offered in hopes of making this long term. Five years is not long term," said City Attorney Rick Abell.
The city will also seek repayment for utility incentives offered to Laidlaw when the new plant opened in 2002.