Amy Achs, AP Erie Correspondent
In addition to the TIF District public hearing, (view article here) the Erie Village Board addressed other business during their June 14th meeting.
Keith Moran of Moran Economic Development presented a summary of the plan for the process of establishing a Business Development District (BDD) and presented the Blight Analysis & Business Development District Plan explaining that the area described qualifies for this process that is similar to the TIF district but not as stringent with areas such as having deterioration, flooding issues, etc. allowed the area to qualify. The BDD is often paired with TIF District planning and has many similarities, but is distinctly different in other ways. The BDD is an economic incentive tool and is a sales tax-based program. It allows the village to bump the sales tax within the district from 7.25% to 8.25% as long as the money is used to fund redevelopment within the district. The new sales tax rate would be at or below other cities in neighboring communities that Erie residents shop in such as Moline 8.5%, Rock Island 8.5%, Sterling 8.25%, and Rock Falls 8.25%. The sales tax increase does not impact medical or prescription purchases, purchases licensed to the state of IL (boat and automobiles sales), or food purchased for consumption at home. For example, ordering a pizza from Casey’s is taxed, but purchasing a frozen pizza is not. Property taxes are not affected by a BDD.
The use of BDD funds is not as stringent as the TIF District guidelines and can be used to build buildings, purchase equipment, update building facades, repair sidewalks, and more. The generation of money is faster than the TIF District but the BDD would start generating funds as soon as it is put in place.
The BDD is used for business retention and business recruitment and to supplement residential development. The hope is to add and grow businesses to keep area residents from leaving the community to purchase many of their goods and services.
The Village Board voted unanimously to approve an ordinance that sets the public hearing date for the establishment of a business district in Erie. The Public Hearing will be July 12th at 5:15 in Village Hall. There will not be a required mailing to announce the hearing information but it will be published in the paper and on Facebook.
This May during the Community Service Project Day, high schoolers helped the Public Works Department take out the signs and landscaping at the entrances to Erie. The old Erie signs had shown wear and were cracked and other signage coming into town was out of date. The new signs for all five entrances to town were donated by Mel and Marlene Saad and include the new branding for the village “All Roads Lead to Erie”, but have been backordered. At this point, Revitalize Erie is hoping for a July installment.
The board voted unanimously to accept employment of Katelin Bridgman as the Community and Economic Director starting August 15 through July 21st. Bridgman has been working for the community as an intern as she finished her Master’s degree in Community and Economic Development. There are many important projects in the works that she would like to see completed that could greatly benefit Erie and the surrounding communities including grants applied for, the TIF district and Business Development District establishment and catalyst developments, planning and research requirements that are needed in order to apply for federal grants, municipal code updating, a community needs assessment and housing stock survey and more.
The Village is still working to hire a School Resource Officer with more interviews to come.
Village Intern -Katelin Bridgman
Redesigning Margaret Park – Town Triangle: The transformation of Margaret Park (the triangle) has been moving forward in a few different directions – a grant application, Revitalize Erie (RE) fundraisers, private donations, and Village of Erie contributions. A grant to help fund the project was not awarded, so the budget was revisited. Revitalize Erie has fundraised $11,701.00 with the Village of Erie contributing $6,128 toward the fountain restoration. During Village Garage Sales, Revitalize Erie was able to raise $1,000 thanks to the donation from the Hannis family’s estate sale. There was a shortage of $4,836 to finish the project. Bridgeman reported that RE has agreed to cover the shortage with the understanding that further fundraisers would be implemented such as an upcoming 50/50 raffle and asking for sponsors to donate the cost of the benches and trees as memorials. The organization plans to add plaques for each of the sponsors on the back of the brick sign. The Village is paying for the sod and its installation. The Board unanimously approved to allow Revitalize Erie to move forward with the rest of the redesign of the Park including installing new three benches, two trees installed by Heritage Landscaping, and accepting the bid from Stichter Construction of $4,200.00 to put in the new sidewalks.
- Public Works will install power and water lines to the fountain, powerlines and electrical work to the wall, and power for the light poles.
- Public Works will install the pedestal for the fountain – the restoration of the fountain is scheduled to be done by the end of June. Installation to follow as the project timeline allows.
- Bright’s Automotive will be paid to sand and paint the original light posts
- Trees will be planted by Heritage Landscaping
- Stichter Construction – sidewalks with an ADA crosswalk at one entrance (required by law) added from the post office. Sod will be laid (possibly by Public Works).
All of the renovations will be complete by August 1st, transforming the park into an inviting and accessible space just in time for the Sesquicentennial Celebrations happening August 12th-14th.
Police – Chief Brian Hawk
- New officers Garrison and Barger are making progress in their training.
- The LEXIPOL (Public Safety Policy & Training Solutions) system roll out is going well and should be out by the June 30th.
- National Night Out is coming August 2nd. Erie’s event will be smaller than last year because Fulton is having a very big one and the officers will go to Fulton’s celebration, as well. The event will be kid-centered with a bouncy house, the firemen and the firehose, and possibly squirt gun fights and face painting. The middle school parking lot is an option or blocking off the road by the Post Office and Library in front of the police department entrance.
Public Works – Joel Papineau
- Street repairs have started with the filling of over 300 potholes using about 6 tons of cold patch.
- An unexpected fire hydrant repair came up – A lot of discussion on safety of repairs such as this after the trench cave-in in a neighboring town. Papineau is working on what needs to be done to be legal and safe and will probably be asking for shoring hydraulic cylinders and steel plates. A trench box is more limiting. Trustee Cox asked if renting equipment would be an option and how often is it needed. Papineau replied that the work is often done as a result of an emergency and when community members don’t have water or power equipment can’t always be rented in a timely manner.
- Mosquito spraying – the yearly calibration has been done which requires attending a workshop by the company and annual certification. Mosquito spraying will start soon with weather. A factor as spraying can’t happen in wind higher than 10 mph.
- The bigger street repairs will be starting soon and the website and Facebook will announce locations as they are scheduled. The list of streets scheduled for work.
- Village Hall Overhang – the overhang is starting to rot under the soffit. Discussion centered around the most cost-effective yet esthetically pleasing way to replace the soffit.
- Back to Original Option – this would cost a lot of money to return it to the original façade as there is a lot of missing brickwork from the previous remodel. A mason would have to be hired, and the 4-year-old roof would have to be redone. Trustee Cox suggested that the village should be “setting the tone for what we want the village to look like” since there has been a push to restore and renovate village buildings. Cox also mentioned that it wouldn’t hurt to at least get a bid because it is not a commitment.
- Sheet metal soffit replacement option– benefits of being long-lasting, cost effective, less maintenance, and consistent with other business façade upgrades in the triangle.
The board gave Joel Papineau unanimous approval to check the cost of the village hall façade repair going back to its original brick or replacing the soffit with sheet metal.
- The burn pile at the sewer plant has been under discussion for many months. The problem is that the commercial dumping of wood chips along with community member drop-offs are space consuming and require a lot of maintenance to keep it from spontaneously catching on fire. There were three incidents of fire last year that the fire department had to be called in to put out. That along with extended brining times, which has caused complaints. The drop off location is viewed by board members as a tax payer benefit to have homeowner tree debris dropped off at the plant for free, or tree removal companies would have to charge the homeowners for the extra costs of disposal. No action was taken.
Village Legal Counsel
- Review and Discuss Appropriations Ordinance: The initial draft was distributed to the trustees. It needs to be passed in July. It entails guidelines for spending ceilings for financial planning.
- Vote on change to personnel manual – unanimously approved. This changes to allow more flexibility for reasons to terminate an employee and to needing two-thirds vote of the board of trustees instead of three-fourths vote among other details.
- Discuss vacating a portion of 13th Avenue: tabled as new information is being gathered.
The next village board meeting is July 12th at 6:00 in Village Hall.