The Village of Gays Mills Board passed a 2015 general budget of $684,000, which included a tax levy of $129,995.
The village’s portion of the mil rate is 6.11. That means an owner of $100,000 property in Gays Mills would pay $611 in property taxes per year for village services. A Gays Mills taxpayer would pay a mil rate of $24.21 when all units of government (state, county, school district, tech school district and the village) are included.
However, the village clerk calculated the reduction in taxes a school credit would give village taxpayers and deducted it from the mil rate to arrive at 22.87 as the mil rate a village taxpayer must pay for all units of government included in the property tax bill. That’s down from last year’s post-school credit mil rate of 23.93 by 1.06.
One agenda item that was the subject of a more lengthy discussion was the possible use of industrial park land for agriculture.
Village trustee John Johnson believes renting the the unused land in the business park for ag use would generate some income, while reducing the expense of mowing that land by the village.
In response to inquiries about the legality of such a move, attorney Eileen Brownlee wrote a letter to the village board informing them that not following current zoning law on the property, which prohibits using industrial-zoned property for agricultural purposes, would jeopardize the status of the TIF District in place on the property. The district allows the village to collect all of the tax revenue on the improved property to pay off infrastructure improvements instead of sharing with the other units of government who normally share in the property tax dollar.
If the TIF district was negated the village would lose more than $20,000 in revenue annually to the other units of government.
During the discussion, it was decided that the area might include some 15 to 20 acres of suitable agricultural land varying in quality from poor to good. Even if the village could receive $200 per acre in rent, it could only net $4,000 in revenue per year. Savings in mowing was not calculated or discussed.
However, both Johnson and village trustee Al Zegiel pointed out that the attorney did allow the village could change its zoning to allow agriculture as a conditional use in industrial-zoned property and not risk losing the TIF income.
Village president Harry Heisz cautioned against this approach and setting precedents that might not work out as well in some areas going forward.
Nevertheless Zegiel and Johnson indicated they wanted to continue to look into the possibility and it appeared the matter might be placed on next month’s agenda for further discussion.
In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:
• heard an update on the Kickapoo Culinary Center that reported the village’s shared-use kitchen experienced one of its busiest months ever in November
• indicated it would renew a memo of understanding with GMEDA (Gays Mills Economic Development Association) on the management of the Kickapoo Culinary Center
• heard that GMEDA would receive an update on a public meeting held Saturday to discuss the trail and wetland development plans
• received an update on the 212 Main Building outlining issues with storage of containers for the monthly mobile food pantry
• got an update on the possibilities of maintenance on a Highway 171 wayside with a view of the village below
• discussed finding a person to represent the village on the Crawford County Economic Development Corporation Board
• approved EMC as the provider of the 2015 property and liability insurance for the village
• approved an agreement with Community Development Alternatives allowing the consulting firm to continue administering a housing improvement revolving loan fund
• agreed to a reduced rent rate of $100 for three days for Kickapoo Exchange Food Co-op’s rummage sale in the 212 building
• approved refinancing the loan for the TIF improvements
•approved Marjie Jurgensen as a new library board member
• confirmed the fire department officers as Chief Earl Winsor, Assistant Chief Andrew Smiley, Secretary Aaron Fortney and Treasurer Brent Seiser