EL explores ways to expand TIF district

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

ELKHART LAKE – Premiere Development would like to get in on the village’s flourishing tax incremental districts and village officials are exploring ways to make that happen.

The Village Board, meeting as a Committee of the Whole Monday, discussed expanding the village’s TIF 4 – created for Wolf Motorsports – to include the proposed next phase of Premiere’s condominium development along Hickory and Otto lanes.

Village President Alan Rudnick explained that the village could expand the TIF for Premiere without having to borrow more money.

Instead, he said, the village could utilize future tax revenues from the district to provide developer’s incentives to Premiere. Those payments would reimburse Premiere for some infrastructure costs and finance more on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Only two of the three condo buildings Premiere plans to build could be included in the TIF, Rudnick added, due to limits on the total size and value of TIFs allowed under state law.

Gary and Lola Roeh of Premiere Development made their case before the committee for expanding the TIF to include their residential development.

They pointed out that the village is in need of housing for permanent residents, especially with recent additions at Sargento Foods and other business expansions in the village.

Lola Roeh noted that of the employees at the Sargento research facility in the village, only one actually lives in the village due to the shortage of housing.

James Schuessler of the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. supported their statement.

He cited SCEDC research showing that residential growth in the county, including the village of Elkhart Lake, continues to lag behind job growth, which is on a pace better than state and regional job growth.

With evidence of general support for expanding the TIF among board members, the matter was referred to the Planning Commission for further study and consideration, including a possible public hearing and developer’s agreement.

That will include developing project and cost estimates for the expansion.

During their regular meeting, the board learned from Village Administrator/Clerk/ Treasurer Jessica Reilly that the emerald ash borer has officially been found in the village.

She said the insect, which eventually destroys the ash tree it bores into, was found on village owned property just south of the firehouse.

The Tree Commission was set to look into the issue further and plan a course of action for the village, as well as notifying village residents.

There are about 50 ash trees on village property, Reilly noted, including parks and street rights-of-way. The village has treated eight ash trees in the Village Park alongside the Grashorn Municipal Building, but that is only a temporary measure, she stressed.

“The treatments aren’t likely going to save the trees forever, but it gives us an opportunity to plant some more trees before we cut down any. If we cut down eight trees that will have a huge impact on the park,” Reilly said.

The board approved a $1 increase in the sewer rate to $6.75. That encompasses the 91 cent rate increase for Northern Moraine Utilities, which has to rebuild its reserve funds under a state mandate.

“Hopefully that will cover whatever we need so we don’t have to do another increase (in the rate) soon,” Trustee Lynn Shovan stated.

The board gave final approval to a $190,000 grant from the Department of Natural Resources to help pay for lead water line replacements on private property in the village.

Reilly said just under 50 lead service lines have been identified. Under the grant program, all costs of replacing those lines (after a $250 co-payment by property owners) would be covered, including lawn restorations.

Letters on the program will be going to identified property owners in the next week, Reilly said.

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