WARREN $1.7M loan toward expansion project to be considered

Diane Sauer hopes to create 10 jobs over the next several years.
WARREN -- City council will consider later this month a proposed $1.7 million loan toward a downtown car dealership's $4.8 million expansion.
The project will include an addition to the Diane Sauer Chevrolet dealership to house its service department and another addition that will expand its showroom. The dealership is at South Street and Chestnut and Niles avenues.
Also included are improvements to the dealership's outdoor display area. The dealership, which sells new and used cars, moved last year from another downtown location on West Market Street.
"Diane Sauer made a huge commitment to the city of Warren when she decided to stay in Warren. She could have relocated very easily," said Gary Fonce, D-at large, chairman of council's community development committee.
The commitment the dealership is making to the city "is well-worth the small amount of risk'' the city is taking by approving the loan, he said Tuesday.
About the loan
The proposed loan, known as a Section 108 loan, will go before council for its approval Sept. 28, said Michael D. Keys, the city's community development director.
Sauer hopes to create 10 jobs over the next three to four years from this project, Keys said. The loan is also intended to retain jobs, Keys added.
"The big thing is retaining jobs in our downtown," he said.
The 15-year loan will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to the city, and the city will provide the money to the dealership. HUD has already approved the loan.
The loan, which is secured by the dealership's assets and the city's other community development monies, would likely be at or just below the prime rate, Keys said. The prime rate is now just above 6 percent.
Other funding for the expansion project includes a $2 million loan from Sky Bank, a $262,000 loan from General Motors and $800,000 of Sauer's own money, Keys said.
New directives for employees
In a finance committee meeting that followed, William "Doug" Franklin, safety-service director, said he had issued fuel-saving directives regarding city vehicles.
The newest administrative order tells department heads that employees may not take city cars home if they live outside the city. If they live in the city, take-home city cars are to be limited to those who are on call for emergencies, such as water main breaks. The order also says city vehicles must not idle for longer than a minute.
Police department policy already calls for officers to park their cruisers for 10 minutes each hour, both to save fuel and to improve community relations by encouraging officers to get out of their cruisers and talk to neighborhood residents. Franklin said he thinks that should be increased to 15 minutes per hour.
An additional vehicle use directive, specific to the police department, is forthcoming, he said.

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