Supes get feedback on using TIF for GC Early Learning Center

~by Janice Harbaugh for GreeneCountyNewsOnline

Some county residents wasted no time in letting the supervisors know their thoughts on the idea of using tax increment financing (TIF) revenue for a proposed new Greene County Early Learning Center. Supervisor Mick Burkett, at the Jan. 30 regular meetings, said “We’ve all had calls about TIF.”

Board chair John Muir quoted an email from a resident: “We worry about precedents being set as large sums continue to be used in Jefferson with these funds.”

TIF revenue is being used to partially fund the career academy. It is a way of generating revenue based on the increased value of the wind turbines located in Greene County.
The board had verbally and informally agreed to support a $250,000 contribution toward the building of the ELC at the Jan. 27 board meeting. The board had made preliminary inquiries as to whether TIF would be appropriate for the project prior to that meeting.

At the Jan. 30 meeting, Muir said the TIF attorney “had no issue with it” but there would be “hurdles.” Muir said, “TIF is not a new tax on people.”

Burkett said, “We verbally committed to TIF and ELC.” Supervisor Pete Bardole said, “We’ve taken the position we want the county to grow.” Supervisor Dawn Rudolph said, “We have services we have to provide (for children.)”

The negative communications to the supervisors appeared to be 1) the use of large amounts of money from TIF and 2) the giving of money to a non-profit childcare agency vs for-profit childcare businesses in the county.

County attorney Thomas Laehn said, “Using TIF money (for the ELC project) is within what the law allows.” He said he was comfortable from a legal standpoint but “the policy decision is for the board.”
The board took no action.

Conservation director Dan Towers and commission member Steve Haupert asked if the board would consider using Local Option Sales and Services Tax money (LOSST) for the bridge repair over the Raccoon River on the bike trail south of Jefferson. FEMA is granting 85 percent – $430,000 – for repair to the bridge and two boat ramps damaged by ice flows last February. The county is asked to provide 15 percent, or $72,000.

Burkett asked how long the project would take. Towers said there could be an April or May bid letting and work through the summer. He said the trail across the bridge would “probably not be ready for the next season.”

No action was taken by the board. They agreed to consider the request for the FY21 budget now under consideration. The funds would come from the general fund if not the LOSST fund.

Sheriff Jack Williams and ambulance director Michele Madsen reported the availability of a new FEMA grant for the purchase of ambulances. If a grant is awarded, the county would be required to match 5 percent of the cost. The board agreed that Williams and Madsen should apply for a FEMA grant for a new ambulance.

The board unanimously approved Resolution 2020-07, an application for “Federal funding under the Surface Transportation Program as a Federal Fiscal Year 2023 Transportation Improvement Program project.”

This project will make improvements to County Road E-57 between County Road P-14 and Highway 4.

Engineer Wade Weiss spoke about lands to the north of the project needing to be drained and a larger culvert needed in the project area.

The board unanimously approved an application be made for federal funding to the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program (STBG) for this project.

Bardole reported he and auditor Jane Heun met with All-American Turf for an outdoor lighting demonstration on the courthouse and both were pleased with it. The plan is to install outdoor lighting in the spring.

The board adjourned and opened a drainage district trustees meeting to consider business for DD191 and DD187.

Representatives from Bolton and Menk opened bids for work to be done on DD191. The engineer estimate for the project was $290,000. Bids were received from three bidders: Healy Excavation of Lake View, Midwest Mechanical Industrial Services of Logan, and Rognes Brothers Excavating of Lake Mills. The lowest bidder was Healy Excavation at $261,808.

DD191 is located in the vicinity of a mile east and a mile south of Scranton.
The public hearing for repair to DD187, an open ditch, was continued to Feb. 20 at 9 am in the board room at the courthouse because no landowners attended the meeting on Jan. 30.

Repairs to be considered are cleaning of the ditch, deepening the ditch to prevent vegetation from growing, and lowering a culvert. DD187 is located south of Cooper, east and west of Highway 4.

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