By MATT HOPF
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
A senior official with Knapheide Manufacturing Co. said Thursday that Mayor John Spring should not take credit for job growth in Quincy, including with that company.
Senior Vice President Bo Knapheide disputed a campaign advertisement that has appeared this week about job growth during Spring's tenure, including 200 new jobs at Knapheide.
Knapheide said the economic meltdown of 2008 forced the company to shed about 300 jobs before it began calling back employees in 2010.
"Our growth is the direct result of tremendous effort by the Knapheide team under the most difficult circumstances," Knapheide said. "To grow our company, we had to overcome the disastrous economic policies of Mayor John Spring and his supporters/allies in the Chicago-based majority that controls Illinois government."
In a press release, Spring said he was disappointed that Knapheide decided to "politicize jobs and economic development."
Spring said when Knapheide Manufacturing built its plant northeast of 24th and Koch's Lane, it received several local government incentives, including enterprise zone tax abatement, road improvements, water and sewer line extensions, a low-interest loan from the city, job training funds and a grant from the state of Illinois.
"Those incentives were furnished when Chuck Scholz was mayor," Spring said. "Partisan politics did not come into play. Economic development must be nonpartisan, and we must work together for our community to continue to prosper. While I have been mayor, I have worked with many prospective new businesses and industries to develop public-private partnerships. I have never asked their political preference.
"My administration has continued the effort to create more jobs by promoting public-private partnerships as used in the development of the Knapheide facility."
Knapheide also said Quincy's property tax levy has increased from $4.688 million in 2006 to $5.655 million in 2012. The levy has gone up primarily because property value has increased, but Spring said the tax rate has dropped in seven of the last eight years. The city's tax rate was $1.03 per $100 of assessed valuation for taxes paid in 2006 and is predicted to be 99.27 cents per $100 of assessed valuation on taxes paid for 2012.
Knapheide also said Quincy's unemployment rate has more than doubled since 2005, from 4.2 percent to 8.5 percent. The national rate is 7.7 percent.
"Mayor Spring claims Quincy has a low or favorable unemployment rate," Knapheide said. "That is not true."
Republican mayoral candidate Kyle Moore stood next to Knapheide during the press conference at the company's offices at 1848 Westphalia Strasse. Moore said claims by Spring that Quincy has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the state are misleading.
However, the article Spring cites in the campaign ad refers to the unemployment rate in Adams County -- which is the second-lowest in the state -- and not just Quincy.
"This is a race for the mayor of Quincy, not the mayor of Adams County," Moore said.
Knapheide held a press conference one day after Moore reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections that his campaign had received $2,000 this week from both Harold Knapheide III and the Knapheide Manufacturing Co.
Harold Knapheide III, Bo Knapheide and the company have contributed a combined $9,000 to Moore's campaign since December.