I am writing this letter to the citizens of Colfax to help keep topics and decisions made by the Committees and Village Board as transparent as possible for our Village residents.
In recent months we have advertised and proceeded to buy land for residential development. This purchase was not taken lightly, and the Planning Commission and the Village Board evaluated many scenarios to ensure this makes sense for the future of the Village. Some ask, “where is this money coming from?”
Answer: The Village retains a savings account from unspent budget money referred to as “undesignated funds.” The purchase will come from an undesignated fund account, but reimbursed through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). When purchases are made through a TIF district, the cost is paid back through increased valuation dollars that are not levied upon your taxes. As a result of this purchase, there will be additional property value in the village and additional population. This valuation is used by several entities like the Village and the School District to decide on levy amounts, investment opportunities, and funding strategies. When the property value of the village as a whole increases and expands the tax base, mill rates decrease, so your taxes go down.
The area of Phase I and Phase II of the residential development has been carefully selected because of its location along Dunn Street and requires minimal to no cost to have services, such as water and sewer, stubbed in to most of those lots. The Village will NOT be the developer of these residences and will merely just be the advertising agent to contractors, potential homeowners, and even financial institutions to try to sell the lots. The Village is planning for mid-range priced homes to be built on the lots to ensure a modern development that stable families would want to be part of.
Another question a resident may ask is… “How much more can our treatment facility handle?”
Answer: When the treatment facility was built in the mid-80’s it was designed to handle two times the size of the Village at that time. Obviously, the Village has not grown at an aggressive rate and is not twice as large as it was in the 1980s, so we have more than enough capacity for the 150 plus families that would be in the new development. Chances are we would outlive the age of the treatment facility before we meet the maximum size requirements.
Another topic I would like to address is our direction in the Library conversations. We have asked several firms to submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to work up a couple options regarding a stand-alone library or a multi-functional building that would include Library, Village Hall, and Police Department. These options should include a design and cost estimate of these projects.
We all know that more Library space is needed, and past polls of the Village residents opted to minimize spending on our current Municipal building, so we will investigate all options. Once the proposals come in, we will have a town hall meeting to hear out the questions, concerns, and options for a vote for what community members feel comfortable with.
The main focus of the Village board is regardless what option we go with is that we choose an option that will NOT raise any taxes to support these initiatives. I foresee a need for an aggressive donation/sponsorship program established and a grant searching strategy to achieve whatever option we go with.
So to reiterate… we have not signed up to build anything just yet and will include the community members when the time comes to decide about our options for the library.
Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns, and I will do my best on getting the answers.
Village of Colfax, President