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Harmony City Council dicusses TIF District

Fri, May 15th, 2009
Posted in Government

The Harmony City Council had a lot of discussion and made some final decisions on some improvements in the downtown area at the May 12th meeting. The alley behind the bank will be improved with new lighting and street improvements. At the same time, the parking lot will be completed.

Brett Grabau from Bonestroo spoke to the council about the engineering report on the project. He said the alley will have a better base and surface, and that it would be easier to tie the project in with the parking lot project. The total estimated by the engineers for the alley was $36,204.30. This price included a ten percent contingency and a 20 percent engineering cost.

Grabau advised the council to solicit quotes from contractors for the project. He felt it would be faster and cheaper for the city. Since the project is under $100,000, the city does not have to bid the project competitively.

City Administrator Jerome Illg explained the area being improved is located in the TIF (Tax Increment Financing) District #1. This TIF District was created in 1985, and has much more liberal rules as to how the money can be spent. The increment money can be spent anywhere in the city limits. According to Illg, the district brought in about $100,000 last year. In 2011, the district will be decertified. Illg proposed that for the next three years, the money that comes from that district be split in half between the city and the EDA (Economic Development Authority). Money that goes to the city can be used for city improvements such as the alley improvements. The share that goes to the EDA can be used for commercial rehabilitation. Sherry Hines, a member of the EDA, agreed that having a source of funds for businesses would be a good thing.

"We've used a lot of funds to do a lot of good things that we wouldn't normally have been able to do," said council member Gerald Shuck.

Illg will draw up a resolution earmarking funds for certain projects and present it to the council at the next meeting.

Electrical Upgrades

Stuart Morem of Morem Electric gave the city estimates for electrical upgrades to the alley and the parking lot. Option number one includes installing a conduit on Center Street. It will start on the corner near Harmony Foods, go along the sidewalk and behind On The Crunchy Side. There will be a service conduit for lights in the alley, and conduit will be stubbed to properties for future underground electrical. There will also be transformers on each end of the alley. The estimate for option number one is $8,950.

He added another estimate of $12,500 for extending the 4 inch conduit underground from the west side of On the Crunchy Side to 1st St. NW.

The council decided to use TIF money to pay for the alley improvements and electrical upgrade in the alley, which is a total of approximately $58,000. They also agreed to use money from the electrical fund to pay for the lights that would be placed on West Center Street. TIF money cannot be used to pay for decorative lighting. The cost coming out of the electrical fund to pay for the lights would be approximately $18,500.

Morem said he could start his work as soon as possible. He has to be in contact with the telephone and gas companies as well to coordinate work they will have to do.

The hope is to one day in the near future having all of the electrical and telephone lines be underground in the alley and get rid of the overhead lines. The work that Morem does will get everything ready so that when the time comes, they do not have to dig under the street.

Grabau said the entire job shouldn't take more than five weeks, and said the city should give the contractors a completion date that they would like to have the work done. He will start getting bids as soon as possible.

Sludge Pump

City Maintenance Employee Chris Johnson explained to the council the need for a pump for the sludge tank. He said the tank holds 188,000 gallons of sludge. The city does not currently own a pump, so when it comes time to haul it every couple of years, they have to hire someone who owns a pump. Johnson had received a few bids on buying a pump, and found one from Kalmes Implement for $12,500. The price includes all of the piping and wiring needed, as well as installation.

Johnson explained that right now the city pays five cents a gallon for Casey Clark to pump and haul the sludge. With its own pump, the city would still hire someone to haul the sludge, but would pay only one cent per gallon. It would also give the city the flexibility to hire any contractor and not rely on just one. They would also be able to stir the sludge every so often to keep it from hardening, and would be able to drain it about every two years.

Other Business

Ralph Beastrom spoke to the council about the July 4 celebration. According to Beastrom, there will be events on both Friday July 3 and Saturday July 4. There will be a beer tent and a DJ both nights. The theme of the celebration is the 75th Anniversary of Niagara Cave. Beastrom did not feel that noise would be a problem. The council approved a temporary liquor license and the scheduled events.

Smith Schafer and Associates gave the city a proposal for their yearly audit. The city approved a two-year contract with them at $11,500 for 2009 and $11,750 for 2010.

Tieffenbacher said the Park Board is looking at getting new lights for the basketball and tennis courts. The lights will be on a timer and will be turned off after 11 p.m.

Council member Deb Scrabeck was nominated to attend training for the Board of Review on June 24.

The council approved the liquor licenses for Wheelers and the Harmony Golf Club.

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