Montgomery votes to cut homebuilder fees : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Montgomery votes to cut homebuilder fees|
|Temporary move intended to help boost local home construction|
|by John Etheredge|
Village of Montgomery officials are hopeful that by reducing some of the fees the village charges homebuilders over the next two years that more new homes will be built in the village.
In a 5-1 ballot Monday evening, the village board approved abating up to $2,000 on every new home built in the village between May 1 and April 30, 2014.
Board member Pete Heinz cast the lone negative ballot on the motion to approve the fee reduction.
Jamie Belongia, assistant to the village's acting administrator, said the board's vote will allow village staff to reduce impact fee, traffic impact fees, water tap on fees and the village's residential building permit fee up to $2,000 for each new home built.
Belongia said the fee abatement would vary from subdivision to subdivision in the village, depending upon how the village previously structured the fee payments with the subdivision developers.
Heinz questioned whether homebuilders will pass along the $2,000 savings to homebuyers.
"What's to say they won't turn around and (still) charge that $2,000 to the homeowners?" Heinz asked.
"There is no guarantee," Belongia said.
Board member Andy Kaczmarek noted that many homebuilders have already paid their fees to the village. He questioned whether the village would be rebating a portion of those already paid fees back to the homebuilders.
Belongia said there would be no rebating of previously paid fees.
Kaczmarek said he also believes the village should offer a similar fee reduction for developers of commercial properties in the village.
Jeff Zoephel, the village's finance director and acting village administrator, said a reduction in the village's commercial development fees could be considered by the board at a later date.
"That would be a separate discussion," Zoephel said.
Board member Matt Brolley noted the village will not be giving back any fee payments to developers that have already paid the fees.
"That is correct," Belongia said, adding, "If they have already paid our water tap on fee upfront that is unfortunate for them, but they don't get that back."
Brolley voiced support for reducing the fees.
"It's not a huge sum of money, but I think Ryland (Homes) and some of the other developers around here may take a look at some of our unstarted subdivisions," Brolley said, adding, "People are living on our west side next to dirt piles with sporadic sidewalks. Every new home built helps make that dirt pile a little lower and the sidewalks get connected a little bit better, so I think it's incremental but it's a huge sign to the community we're working on this."
Village staff members proposed the fee reduction to the board last month in an effort to encourage homebuilding in several existing subdivisions, including Huntington Chase, Saratoga Springs, Orchard Prairie North, Balmorea and Marquis Pointe. Homebuilding in the subdivisions has all but stopped since the outset of the 2008 recession. The construction slowdown has left hundreds of vacant lots along with unfinished streets and sidewalks in the subdivisions.
In a statement released by the village Monday evening, Village President Marilyn Michelini said of the fee reduction, "We hope that this program sends a message that we are ready for development and willing to work with builders and developers. Residential construction is a crucial component for the village's overall development strategy."
New budget approved;
wage scale up two percent
In other business during Monday's board meeting:
_The board capped several months of work by voting unanimously to adopt a $20 million operating and capital improvement budget for the fiscal year that begins May 1.
_In a 5-1 vote, the board approved a new salary schedule for the village's non-union employees. Zoephel noted the schedule shifts the salary ranges for the various classifications for village employees upwards by two percent effective May 1 and the start of the fiscal year.
Kaczmarek cast the lone negative ballot on the motion to increase the salary ranges.
"Somewhere we have to draw the line on increasing the salaries every year," he said.
_The board approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation that will clear the way for the state agency to replace existing conventional incandescent traffic signals on Ill. Route 31 at Knell and Aucutt roads with more energy efficient LED signals.
Peter Wallers, president of Engineering Enterprises, Inc., the village's engineering consultants, said IDOT is now installing LED replacement signals in communities across the state.
The LED signals, Wallers said, use significantly less electricity, resulting in a "tremendous savings." In addition, he said they can function in the event of a power outage because they have a battery back-up feature.
Wallers acknowledged that there has "been some discussion" about LED traffic signals not generating heat to melt snow off the signals, but noted state traffic law "is clear that if you can't see the (traffic) signals you should stop."
_The board approved Michelini's appointment of Heidi Dziedzic of Marilyn Drive, Montgomery, as village clerk.
Dziedzic term began during Monday evening's board meeting and will end April 30, 2013.
Michelini noted that Dziedzic has prior experience in municipal government.
She replaces long-time village clerk Barbara Argo who retired, then returned to work for a short time before stepping down.