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Future of TIFs discussed in Gays Mills
GM Village Hall

GAYS MILLS - One of the more interesting discussions at the Gays Mills Village Board meeting Monday night centered on the past, present and future of village’s Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts.

Kurt Muchow, a planner with Vierbicher and Associates, was on hand to explain a report he’d drafted on the village’s TIF District. Muchow was the Vierbicher employee, who was responsible for overseeing much of the government-funded flood relocation efforts completed about five years ago.

Muchow began by telling the board about the current TIF, which was used to create development in the village’s business park. That TIF financed the infrastructure improvements that allowed BAPI to locate and expand in the business park. It also paid for infrastructure improvement that allowed several residences to be built.

In turn the increased property taxes were diverted to the TIF to pay for those improvements like streets, sewer and water.

The TIF in Gays Mills was created in 2000 and must expire in 2023. The expenditure limit date is five years before the TIF expiration on September 28, 2023-this means the last TIF expenditures must be made by September 28, 2018, according to Muchow.

The TIF currently has revenue of $56,200 per year. The projected total revenue through the life of the TIF $393,400 based on a 2017 valuation. BAPI’s 2017 construction will add $45,250 in revenue so the total revenue through the life of the TIF should be $438,650.

Since the projected total expenses of the TIF are $106,173, the TIF surplus is projected to be $332,477. Muchow noted that the estimates he provided in the report are very preliminary and need to be verified.

However, the Vierbicher consultant did offer a list of possible additional TIF or projects and their approximate costs. The costliest and most striking of the projects was a bike/walking trail from the Applewood Business Park to the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center at a cost of $275,000 to include a bridge over a small stream. Interestingly, the first project on the list called for making four percent interest payments on money borrowed from the Gays Mills Village Fund to the TIF it would come to a $13,000 recharge for the general fund. Another interesting proposal that has been discussed is bringing three-phase power service to more property in the business park.

Three other projects mentioned on Muchow’s list were a sidewalk from the Gays Mills Mercantile Center to the Marketplace at a cost of $3,500, bike-walking trails from the business park to the railroad grade at $50,000 or the Community Commerce Center to the railroad grade for $65,000.

Other limitations and opportunities with the TIF were also discussed in the report. Muchow cautioned the board that if the value of the current TIF were to exceed more than 12 percent of the village’s total valuation the village would not be able to create any new TIFs. The current TIF value stands at about 10.54 percent, but this could change with new evaluations.

The consultant then discussed three new possible TIFs, including one that would overlay the current TIF and incorporate any unused parcels into the new TIF.

Muchow also reminded the board that in 2010 the current TIF was expanded to include the newly purchased property where the rescue squad and department of public works buildings are located. At the same time, the village incorporated another new rule that allowed it to include property located within a half mile of the TIF District as part of it. This put the Community Commerce Center, the Mercantile Center, the Marketplace, as well as most of the new residential development adjacent to it, into the TIF.

For his part, Muchow seemed to endorse creating several new TIFs in the village. In his report he called TIF the “best funding program available to local units of government to promote new development.”

Muchow also noted eligible TIF projects could include infrastructure, bike-pedestrian trails, site development, business and developer incentives, land acquisition, marketing and promotion, administrative costs and more.

Another major report at the board meeting came from the village’s volunteer forester Cindy Kohles.

The forester told the board Arbor Day Celebrations were scheduled for both the school and the community. She also updated the board on the pruning progress. Noting volunteers had almost completed the structural pruning of trees in the village and there were just five left.  She said clearance pruning was ongoing.

The forester said she accepted the lower bid from Tru Green for an Emerald Ash Borer treatment of two trees. Of six landowners seeking cost share tree removal, three declined to go forward and three are proceeding with the provided lower bid.

Kohles presented a list of tree plantings in the sidewalk terraces and they all were approved by the board.

Gays Mills Director of Public Works Jim Chellevold told the board that a broken water main near the bank was identified on a recent Sunday and shut off. It was fixed on Monday.

Chellevold also addressed concerns about water quality in the village.

The director of public works noted lots of municipalities experience the same problem when there is a large draw on the water supply. Iron collecting in the tower and other parts of the system is disturbed and gets into the water.

Chellevold said the tower cleaning, due this year or next, helps to address the problem, as does the annual fire hydrant flushing.

 Gays Mills Fire Chief Earl Winsor presented an improved mutual aid program for adoption by the board. The system MABAS (Mutual Aid Box Alarm System) is an extensive statewide system that will replace the current local and regional mutual aid agreements. The board approved having the village become part of the system.

Winsor told the board that the department is looking at options as it approaches replacing the brush truck.

The Gays Mills Fire Chief also told the board the Town of Freeman has renewed their contract with the department for just half a year, while they consider using the services of the Ferryville Fire Department.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• approved a resolution authorizing the submission by CDA of a grant application for a DNR Municipal Flood Control Grant to be used in the acquisition and removal of the Song Mushroom Factory on School Street

• approved the Town and Country Sanitation One-pass Collection System using standardized plastic totes and the accompanying seven-year contract

• approved the Sportsman’s Club application for a Temporary Class B Liquor License for May 5, 2018 event at the Community Commerce Center.