Consultant hired for Montgomery TIF study : News : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Consultant hired for Montgomery TIF study|
|Board votes 4-3 after board members clash over prior study |
|by John Etheredge|
The Montgomery Village Board has hired a consulting firm to complete a required feasibility study of a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district on the village's west side.
In a split 4-3 ballot last week, the board authorized village staff to finalize a contract for the study with Teska Associates, Inc. at a cost not to exceed $20,000.
Village President Marilyn Michelini cast the decisive favorable ballot on the motion after board members deadlocked in a 3-3 tie.
Prior to the vote, board members Andy Kaczmarek and Stan Bond questioned Konstantine Savoy, a principal urban planner for Teska, over a recommendation contained in a plan the firm prepared for the village three years ago.
At issue was a recommendation contained in the 2009 transportation and Metra Park-n-Ride location plan that called for a landscaped plaza to be developed one day on the current site of the Montgomery Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7452.
Teska prepared the plan working with village officials and local residents beginning in 2008. The village board adopted the plan in July of 2009.
Savoy confirmed the idea of one day having a public plaza located on the site of the VFW was a "concept that was introduced" in the plan.
"It was on the cover of the book," Bond said, referring to the completed, 27 page study.
Bond asked Savoy how many people worked on the 2009 plan.
Savoy said he could not immediately provide Bond with a "quantitative number," but said there was "extensive public involvement" in the plan's preparation.
Continuing, Savoy recalled Teska and the village hosted several community meetings as the plan was developed, including public open houses and a work session in which residents were invited to sit at tables and participate in the village development of the plan's recommendations.
In addition, Savoy said the plan was subject to review and a public hearing by the village plan commission before it was sent to the board for a final vote.
Savoy emphasized, "This was clearly not a Teska-driven plan. This is not something that was our idea or imposing something on the community. These were literally ideas generated by the community."
Among the plan's other "long-term visions" for the downtown area was the siting of a Metra station on the current site of Lyon Metal, retail stores along the east side of Ill. Route 31 adjoining the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railway station, and construction of multi-story townhomes on existing residential and business properties throughout the downtown.
Board member Denny Lee said the recommendations contained in the plan are intended to be long-term.
Board member Bill Keck noted that in approving the plan three years ago it was "never the intention" of the board to force the VFW to relocate.
"Anyone can cherry pick a particular item out of a plan--say the VFW," Keck said, adding, "Most everyone in this room knows the VFW is not going anywhere. They are not going to be forced out of there."
Keck continued, "They (the VFW) have been a strong supporter of the community. They have been an active supporter of the community. In no way, shape or form are there any plans to push them out of their location across the street from here. That was just one small item in a plan. Unfortunately, it was taken as the village's plan to eventually shut them out of there and have a park."
Bond said if the village did not intend for the VFW to move from it current site "then it shouldn't have been the sketch on the cover" of the plan.
Bond then called for a vote on the motion to hire Teska to complete the TIF feasibility study.
Casting votes in favor of the motion were Keck, Lee and Matt Brolley. Bond, Kaczmarek and Pete Heinz cast negative votes.
Six firms submitted
bids to do TIF study
Teska was one of six consulting firms that submitted proposals to prepare the TIF feasibility study. The village's TIF Eligibility Study Committee reviewed the proposals and interviewed representatives from Teska and another firm during a meeting Aug. 22. The committee subsequently sent a recommendation to the board that they hire Teska.
The board previously budgeted the funds to pay for the study.
The board is considering establishing a TIF district on the village's west side along Orchard Road between U.S. Route 30 and Jericho Road, and along sections of Aucutt Road.
The study will determine if individual properties in the proposed TIF area meet state requirements for TIF district status.
In addition, the study will prepare land use concepts and examine the financial feasibility of development options for the properties.
Village officials along with members of the Montgomery Economic Development Corporation's Business Climate Enhancement Committee have proposed the creation of the TIF district in an effort to spur business development on the village's west side.
Under state law, the assessments on properties designated as TIF districts are frozen at a base level for up to 23 years. The property owners continue to pay taxes on their properties to the local taxing districts calculated on the base level assessment. However, revenues generated by new development in the TIF district are collected by the village and used to pay for public improvements in the TIF district.
MEDC officials have said previously that proceeds from the TIF district could be used to pay for infrastructure improvements, including a "compensatory (water) storage system" that would make properties now located in the Blackberry Creek floodplain that extends on either side of Orchard Road eligible for development. Another infrastructure item that could be paid for with TIF revenues would be a bridge that would span Blackberry Creek on a proposed extension of Aucutt Road from Orchard Road, according to MEDC officials.