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Special Call Meeting Recap

Happy Saturday! Just wanted to drop a brief recap of the special call meeting from Thursday. Only two items on the agenda - presentation of the FY2019 Audit Report and further discussion on the Downtown Master Plan.

In short terms the Auditor stated that the City's finances are in good shape. Here are some of the highlights from the auditor's report:

  • City assets ($4,890,221) exceeded liabilities ($261,485)

  • Total net position increased - combination of fund balance, capital assets, long-term assets, net pension liability, and long-term liabilities. Total Net Position = $9,752,269

  • The combined ending fund balance was $4,342,331.

Overall it was a long presentation with a lot of numbers. I won't attempt to summarize all those numbers here, but you can read the report for yourself. The full audit report can be found on the City's website.

The second item was further conversation on the Draft Downtown Master Plan. On August 18th the council denied the adoption of the plan (2 in favor, 3 against, 1 abstained). The draft plan can be found on the City's website.

The intent of the conversation was to try to clarify some of the concerns and provide more information on the Plan and it's importance to Council. I felt it was important to stress that this plan was generated through community input. In all 244 survey responses, 107 participants in 2 virtual public meetings and 28 stakeholders. I would like to personally thank everyone who participated in the public meeting and lent their voice. I would also like to thank our consultant, POND, for being able to pivot on a dime and still garner public input during a pandemic!

Some still voiced concern with the overall cost to complete the proposed projects. To be clear, infrastructure projects always come with a steep price tag. They are large and take many years to complete. However, adopting the plan now does not incur any additional debt or obligation. It would then be up to council to approve a timeline to have the projects completed, find funding sources, and approve each project individually along the way. With the pandemic the city and residents are facing hard financial times. It is likely no projects would be done until 2022.

The cost to conduct the plan has already been approved and expended. Not adopting the plan would mean we essentially wasted about $150,000. To deny the plan outright without asking for a revision or clarifications feels like denying the vision of those who participated.

On top of mapping a plan and vision for the village, the Master Plan allowed the City to apply for the Rural Zone Tax designation with the Department of Community Affairs. Some quick facts on that:

  • The Rural Zone program targets rural downtown areas that have been adversely impacted by local economic conditions by creating Rural Zones and offering economic development incentives.

  • The Rural Zone stimulates investment, job creation and economic development.

  • The Job Tax Credit (JTC) will be $2,000 per new full-time equivalent job per year, up to 5 years and not to exceed $200,000 total or $40,000. New full-time equivalent jobs mean an aggregate of employee worked hours totaling 40 hours per week between two or more employees. At least two net, new full-time equivalent jobs must be created to qualify. This credit is for the small business owner who opens a storefront and creates jobs.

  • The Investment Credit is equivalent to 24% of the purchase price, not to exceed $125,000 total or $25,000 per year. At least two net, new full-time equivalent jobs must be created and maintained to qualify for the investment credit. This credit is for people who purchase a building downtown and cannot be taken unless jobs are created and JTC is taken.

  • The Rehabilitation Credit is equivalent to 30% of the qualified rehabilitation, not to exceed $150,000 total or $50,000 per year. At least two net, full-time equivalent jobs must be created and maintained to qualify. This credit is to offset development costs associated with the rehabilitation of a certified investor property.

DCA typically selects 10 city's a year and make the announcement in October. Applicants are required to have a master plan and a marketing plan. Adoption of the Downtown Master Plan would cover both of these items.

With the pandemic still raging we need to be able to provide our community and businesses every opportunity we can to thrive. Let's turn these lemons into lemonade!! (see how I tied the picture in there?!?!?)

Disclaimer: This City Council Recap is taken from my personal notes and memories of the meeting. For the official minutes of the meetings please visit the City web page.

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