Council won’t change TIF projects

The Seymour City Council voted 3-2 to keep the Mainline Drive extension proposal in the revised project plan for Tax Increment Fund District No. 3, at its Monday night, April 26, meeting, but it appears clear that radium remediation of the city’s water supply is the Council’s first priority.
On April 21, Mayor Judith Schuette asked the Joint Review Board, consisting of representatives from taxing entities affected by the TIF to table the plan as passed by the Council on April 22.
“I asked the Board to let the matter come back to the Council because there were new members who should have an opportunity to look at the projects,” Schuette told the Council. “The board had no problem with that, but there is a time limitation.”
After determining that Council action Monday night did not pose a parliamentary challenge Alderman Perry Pierre wanted answered, the Council had a revised plan before it which removed the Mainline Drive extension from the project plan.
The original plan includes the extension of Mainline Drive north to Bronson Road at a cost of $1.2 million, including installation of utilities; the construction of a water main loop and the construction of Seidl Drive in the residential development estimated to cost $708,000; and radium remediation treatment for the city’s water supply, estimated to cost $800,000.
The revised proposal determined that the TIF could fund $1.1 million of the radium remediation cost, even if no new development occurs in the TIF. The remaining $400,000 of the expected cost would be covered by water department funds now on hand. The original plan called for $800,000 from the TIF.
Schuette had concerns that if Mainline Drive remained in the plan, a future Council could go ahead with it, leaving the rate payers with higher water costs.
“I do not support anything which could end up on the levy at the end of the TIF or raise water rates,” she said during debate on the issue.
She said if increased development generates the needed funds for Mainline, the Council could again revise the project list.
Alderman Vernon Court said the Council can proceed in the best direction and nothing need to be spent on Mainline Drive unless the money is there.
“I see no reason to remove it,” he said.
Alderwoman Darlene Werner told the Council she never liked having all three projects,” she said. Werner said she doubts there will be enough development to accomplish all three, so favored the removal of Mainline.
Alderman Ryan Kraft said he agrees with prioritizing the projects but he struggles with pulling it if money becomes available because the Council would have to go through the process again at a cost to the city.
There was concern expressed that if the plan wasn’t revised, the city would be legally bound to the $800,000 figure for radium removal, leaving the rate payers with the tab.
However, Todd Taves of Ehlers, the city’s consulting engineers, informed the city Tuesday that when it comes time to proceed with the project, the city can decide how much of the project it will fund with TIF moneys.
Those voting to remove the Mainline Drive project were: Mary Greuel and Werner. Aldermen Kraft, Jim McMaster and Court voted to keep it in the plan which now will be presented to the Joint Board of Review.