Next Sargento expansion will speed TIF payoff by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – Sargento’s next expansion here, announced last week, will bring new jobs to the village and a shorter life for the Tax Incremental Finance District Two.

That’s what the Village Board learned Monday.

City Administrator/Clerk/Treasurer Jessica Reilly reported that the Planning Commission reviewed the latest expansion plans for Sargento’s technical center in the village at their last meeting.

“They are going to start construction probably about May,” Reilly told the board. “They are going to start with the parking lot and then stage the rest of the work from there. The completion of the building will be in early to mid 2016.”

She said the $13-15 million project is two years ahead of Sargento’s original plans. “They’re expecting even more job creation. They’re expecting that within four to five years they will be at 145 employees.”

“I think it’s wonderful that they’re accelerating the project,” added Village President Alan Rudnick, who attended the meeting by speakerphone. He added that the increased value provided by the expansion should enable the village to pay off TIF 2 debt faster than originally projected.

How fast depends on the final assessment the state places on the Sargento addition, Reilly noted.

The board approved a resolution abandoning several streets as part of the ongoing Sargento expansion – portions of Maple Street, North West Street, North Lake Street and North Spring Street.

The board received annual reports from the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah Athletic Association and the public library.

Josh Trogan of ELGAA reported that the group added a youth football program to its other programs in 2014.

ELGAA also purchased field groomer for use at June Vollrath Athletic

Park, covered the dugouts on the upper diamond there and purchased a movable fence for the upper softball field.

The latter allows the high school to host WIAA softball playoff games, he noted.

Library Director Betty McCartney told the board the library “had a great year” in 2014.

Circulation increased 1.4 percent over the previous year and was at the highest level since 2012, according to McCartney.

The library added more than 2,000 books to its collection and loaned more books to other libraries in the Eastern Shores Library System for their patrons than it borrowed from other libraries for Elkhart Lake patrons.

Use of digital material jumped by 31 percent and the library was able to increase their Internet access by using a grant to increase bandwidth.

“Financially, we are in an excellent position,” McCartney concluded. “We are financed well by the village.”

The board increased its contribution for the Firemen’s Picnic fireworks display by $1,000. With extra commitments from the chamber and the Tourism Commission as well, this year’s display will be $16,500 worth of fireworks as compared to $13,000 in 2014.

The board joined a list of other local municipalities in formally voting its opposition to a provision in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget that would shift responsibility for property assessments from the village – and other villages, towns and cities – to the county and counties statewide.

“It would cost the village $20,000 to $30,000 a year more,” Reilly said of the proposed change. “The county doesn’t want to do it. I haven’t heard anybody who is in favor of it.”

Trustee Richard Baumann, reporting for the Tourism Commission, told the board that room tax revenues in the village are up 10 percent so far this year.

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